Vail Relationships column: Handling people who act entitled
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series. Read the first part online at http://www.vaildaily.com.
Dear Neil: I have recently declined opportunities to spend time with my father, and I told him that it was because he has been acting very entitled and is therefore not a very enjoyable person to be around. I wasn’t rude, but I explained how I felt and I set limits on what I would accept. The end result is that my dad apologized and changed his behavior so he could be with me.
Learn how to deal with people who act entitled. It doesn’t work to threaten or punish them. But you can set effective limits on them and their behavior.
Setting Limits in New York City
Dear Limits: Whether we know it or not, we teach people how they may treat us every day. Setting effective boundaries is simply being clear about what your expectations or requirements are because people who act entitled tend to not listen to what other people feel or want. As a result, it may be necessary to be unambiguous and clear-cut about what you are asking for, expecting or requiring.
And don’t take their actions personally, as hard as that may be to do. A person who acts entitled is not doing so simply to irritate you or to be selfish. The entitled person very likely feels inferior or that she or he doesn’t measure up. Understanding his or her behavior in this context is one of the keys to dealing with it effectively.
To illustrate the point, think of the behaviors that you associate with a healthy adult with reasonably good self-esteem. Some of the characteristics of such a person may include self-control, the ability to delay gratification, being dependable and reliable, able to take personal accountability and control his or her words or behaviors, has a sense of gratitude, can cope with adversity and can cope with disagreement — to name a few.
Now think of the characteristics of a person who acts entitled. The words you are likely to use to describe that person include demanding, blaming, shaming, has a need to be right, has an intolerance of criticism, has a hard time acknowledging fault or errors of judgment and has a tendency to overstate abilities and accomplishments.
If you look closely enough, you will notice that this person is very insecure and has low self-esteem. That’s why he needs to continuously build himself up or she needs to put other people down and be so demanding and self-centered. Secure people with positive self-esteem don’t need to prove to the world how great they are. Insecure people do.
You can’t have a good relationship with a person who acts entitled. A relationship requires both people’s needs, wants and desires to be treated as equally important. Someone who acts entitled will place his or her wishes or needs above yours.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the bestselling book, “Love, Sex, and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777, or visit neilrosenthal.com.