What To Do When People Get on Your Nerves!
ISBN 9781604027242, $14.75, 2007, (301) 856-8051
MoriEl Randolph's "What To Do When People Get on Your Nerves!" has a title that grabbed my attention right away. I wanted practical advice and examples of how to handle difficult and annoying people. While the book did present a few good pieces of advice, I think at best it would serve as a book to begin with if you want to take back control of your life from demanding and annoying people. Better books are out there, but this one wouldn't be a bad place to start.
I thought the book should include multiple scenarios of what to do in specific situations to deal with annoying people, such as a nosey neighbor, a nagging mother-in-law, an acquaintance that is turning into your personal stalker etc. These kinds of details are completely absent from the book.
The book's strength is it begins by asking us to look into ourselves about why people get on our nerves. It also asks us to react to annoying people not from a place of anger, but from caring concern. We should try to understand where such people are coming from rather than simply understanding the situation from our own viewpoint. This changing of viewpoint can be effective in many situations, along with straightforward talk presented in a tone of caring concern for the person who is giving us the trouble. I advocate Randolph's advice here, but caution that a person does not want to care so much that they become codependent toward the annoying person, thus letting that person only take control and get on our nerves more. Randolph does have a section about how to "put out" people from our lives. More details need to be included on how to accomplish this. For people with these kinds of issues in their lives, whether they are caretakers, or just so nice they let people walk all over them, I would recommend they go read the many wonderful books by Melody Beattie about overcoming one's co-dependency.
Randolph also considers that we should look into our own childhoods to understand what happened in our past that makes certain people irritate us in our present-is the difficult person's behavior similar to that of an annoying aunt or sibling's behavior in the past. We should also try to see the other person's behavior as that person's reaction to a troubled event in his or her past. Again, this is a great idea, but not a new one. Randolph does not use the term but she is advocating inner-child therapy, a subject covered much more thoroughly in John Bradshaw's wonderful book "Homecoming." Both co-dependency and inner child therapy are terms Randolph never uses-I wonder if she's even aware of them. I felt throughout she was sharing ideas but had failed to do research on her topic so that she could really expand and say what needed to be said.
One of Randolph's strongest points is that we must avoid being a slave to sentiment. Do not put up with behavior from your mother you would not put up with from a neighbor, just because that person is your mother. Use logic rather than emotion in dealing with difficult people. Randolph could expand here on what are feelings and emotions and how they can control us rather than being guides to how we should behave. I recommend the reader look for more information here by reading "The Astonishing Power of Emotions" by Esther and Jerry Hicks.
Finally, Christian readers may find the book supports their own viewpoints, but I found the constant embellished comments about God to be a distraction from the message of the book. Randolph spends three paragraphs about why she has to keep referring to God by names like THE ALMIGHTY, THE ALMIGHTY SOVEREIGN, and HIS SOVEREIGN MAJESTY. For me, "God" is sufficient. While I am a spiritual person and believer in God, I think the book relies too much on God and not enough on knowing ourselves. A little more about how to be selfish, in the Ayn Rand sense of the word-taking care of oneself rather than letting an annoying person control you-would have been more effective than the unnecessary and distracting sections about the power of God. Randolph could have found a good editor who could have toned this barrage of religion down while still expressing a Christian viewpoint that would not alienate readers. And she could have used her quotes and examples from scripture more effectively to highlight the book's message.
"What To Do When People Get on Your Nerves" has some practical advice to begin with, but if you really want to solve the problem of difficult people in your life, keep reading.