T Nation

Dealing With Irrational People: Strategies/Advice


#1

Hey all.

Recently I've been put in a situation I found profoundly uncomfortable, which thankfully is almost at an end. Some context:

A former housemate (My girlfriend and I have now found a new place) attempted to dress us down in a Facebook message for arriving 15 minutes late to a house meeting (i.e an informal talk at the local pub that was organized the day before). I was running a fever at the time (respiratory tract infection, etc) and my girlfriend was trying to deal with some racist bullshit she'd copped earlier from a senior lecturer in her course. We made our apologies, yet several hours later this housemate posts an fairly patronizing message to both us and the rest of our house, demanding apologies, explanations, etc.
I responded to her message publicly and privately explaining the situation, and privately telling her not to attempt a dressing down like that again, as it was an informal meeting. At this stage I was thinking "ok, this is just the mild crap you deal with living with people".I suggest that we have a meeting to mediate this "as the intention of statements may be lost when typed".

At the meeting she then accuses me of threatening her, making her fear for her safety so much so that she can't live in the house anymore "because I don't know what you'll do..". I then attempted to accommodate her "perception" so much that it almost makes me sick thinking of it (i.e what can I do to make you feel safe, why do you feel this way, what would you like done) which does nothing, as her mind was already made up. I made an effort for two reasons primarily: Compassion for her level of crazy, and uni exams were the next week and at that point I wanted the situation to just end.
Next minute she declares the situation irreparable, and tell us that she will be sleeping at her mothers until such time as we are no longer in the house. Her boyfriend, who has been sitting by to "make her feel safe while talking to (me)" then gets takes both her and a mattress to her mothers. I should mention she is the landlords daughter and is 27 years old.

We then decided to move out. I consulted two psychologists and a lawyer as to if a threat had been made or if it was worth trying to mediate the situation and they all said nup, no threat, and she's nuts don't try. We're still in the process of getting our bond back (allegations of keeping keys to house etc).

So to the heart of the matter. This has really gotten to me in strange way. I'm used to people physically threatening me and it's water off a ducks back, but someone making false allegations against me really has me concerned. It doesn't help that I'm the perfect target for accusations of threat/intimidation (male, 6'4", 110kgs, broken nose).

The advice I've been given (and taken) has been to remove myself from the situation as quickly as possible. However I wonder what do you do when removing yourself from the situation isn't a viable option? Does anyone have any experience in dealing with this type of thing?


#2

I wish I could give you hope for a reasonable solution, but stay away from crazy and avoid it like the plague. I've had a restraining order taken against me after I stood stoically while being whaled on futilely by a woman half my size, and the only action I took was to take the shower curtain rod away from her when she went after me with that, when fists and kicking did nothing. I should have removed myself from that situation, but my thought was I shouldn't have to leave my own house when I had done nothing wrong, but experience has shown me how wrong I was. As the obviously physically stronger party in an altercation, especially when the other party is female, all assumptions are against you from the start. To quote War Games, the only winning move is not to play.


#3

Yes, remove yourself, period. If necessary, as in the scenario with your housemate, you offer "I'm sorry, this is making me uncomfortable" and then go.

I can't see escalating on Facebook for any reason, but I also am not sure what escalation is needed once a full and genuine apology is offered. "I'm sorry. I was ill, but that's not excuse not to either reschedule or arrive on time." After that, ignore. Crazy/irrational/nitpicky people show best when ranting to themselves.


#4

document ,copy emails,text, keep cell phone video, always retreat,someone always takes the woman side, any thing you say will be distorted taken out of context
in our modern society your apperance can be considered a threat


#5

Cheers for the responses, and yeah, hindsight's something isn't it.

I'm not even sure I should have responded at all as I've made a point in the past of telling people not to deal with contentious matters in text, as it often leads to miscommunication.
Good job following my own advice right..

You're right that I should've removed myself sooner, but I missed the signs this time. The meeting was just surreal though: she claimed to have not heard me apologize (which I did in front of four other people), and that the whole initial situation was now completely irrelevant to her issue of perceived threat (as in, had this situation not happened we would still need be having a meeting about how I made her feel unsafe).

One of the theories offered up by the psychs was that she was trying to misdirect from her own faux-pas in posting a pretty divisive message. I've also subsequently found out from one of her friends (who recommended us for the room initially) that she commonly responds this way when she feels she's losing control of situations - thanks for the heads up mate.

I'm now a bit on edge about encountering people like this in other domains of my life, and I've been racking my brains for the signs that I missed even though I'd rather just be able to forget about it.


#6

Some people just deserve to be doused with lighter fluid and become a human torch for a while.

I'd just cut that person out of my life, period. No kissing up, no apologies, nothin'...

I'll admit that I have a small circle of friends, some I've known since I was 7 years old. Anyone that makes me uncomfortable, they're out and maybe will get a nod in passing.


#7

Have you heard from your landlord/her mother about it, yet?

I bet she does this kind of stuff to her family and her boyfriend, too. They may realize she's just playing her little games and not give you any grief over it.

Did it seem like her boyfriend was just humoring her so that he didn't have the drama pointed in his direction, too?

I think it's also a possibility that she doesn't like living there any more (for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you) and she is just being opportunistic to make this a "legitimate" reason for her to move somewhere else knowing her family wouldn't support the decision otherwise.


#8

After reading this thread title, I was not at all surprised to find out you were dealing with a woman.


#9

After reading this thread title, I was surprised to find out that you were not dealing with my ex-wife.