Compliments of torbakhopper via Flickr

As individuals, we consider “winning” and the end game all important. What transpires in the middle – the easily forgotten “messy bits” are what we many times try to shield from our attention. “To the victor go the spoils” spawns cultures in which persons look for ways to flatten peers. Perhaps entitlement mentality occurs from ignorance (or unawareness), and in a minority of scenarios from shear meanness alone. Regardless of intent, the results are the same. Disintegrated relations. Intractable conflict. Unexpected annoyance. All in the name of getting more. The points below may help us tread lightly:

  • Show perfunctory courtesy. Knock and wait to be invited before you enter a room (Brown, 2008). Barging into people’s space, conversations, lives, neighborhoods (e.g., continually driving past someone’s house) broadcasts a message of “grossly inappropriate” and in the best case scenario “intrusive.”
  • Consider how others most like to be contacted. Do they prefer e-mail or text message (as opposed to the immediacy of having to pick up a phone)? Is their preference for you to contact them first – instead of showing up unannounced on their doorstep? It goes without saying that if someone shares point blank they do not wish to see you, continuing to frequent their residence constitutes a violation of expected civility, not to mention legal mandate.
  • Do not assume a basic acquaintance is “best friend” upon whom you can make unlimited demands. Attempting to guilt or shame people into doing favors for you creates resentment.
  • Refrain from telling other people how they “should” be. Gibson (2015) notes that boundary trespass occurs when we offer assistance/advice/admonition to others unsolicited. Evaluating people sans permission absolves us from doing the hard work of working on ourselves.
  • Do not assume priorities for other people. If someone gives you a finger, resist the temptation to take a hand – presumptively scheduling activities for your benefit that impose upon their time. If they balk, then graciously accept their response.
  • Handle your emotions. Individuals are not clawing posts to relieve momentary tension. Pretending like nothing happened not only makes them feel less dignified, but it reduces your value in their network of friends. Considering others as self-extensions, the self-absorbed think “. . . they should be allowed to do or say whatever they want to without any objection” (Brown, 2008, p. 156).
  • Never go through people’s belongings without their permission (or at the very least, knowledge). This may seem like a no brainer but for some, temptation to snoop is simply too great. Infractions include rifling through colleagues’ mail, mining coworkers for gossip/juicy details, sleuthing others’ salaries, and rearranging colleagues’ belongings behind their backs. A supervisory variant involves employee spying, either through managerial permissions or electronic spyware.



Brown, N. W. (2008). Children of the self-absorbed: a grown-up’s guide to getting over narcissistic parents. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Gibson, L. C. (2015). Adult children of emotionally immature parents: How to heal from distant, rejecting, or self-involved parents. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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