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Any of you have someone in your life who just drives you crazy at times?  You don’t like him (or her) and the only time he ever interacts with you is when he wants something or when he’s not getting enough attention to feed his ever-starving ego.


Maybe it’s the family member who always causes drama, the co-worker who manipulates everyone around her, someone you admired who turned out to be made up of lies, or maybe it’s an old friend who was never really your friend.  Sometimes that person is irritating to amusing, but at other times, they manage to really press your buttons.


We all know or have known people like that.  Sometimes we can just end a relationship and walk away from it forever.  At other times, it’s a family member or co-worker and we can’t avoid at least some interaction.


How do we deal with people like that in our lives?


I look at it this way.  Life is made up of an inner and outer circle.


The inner circle is composed of people we love and care about who also return that love and care to us.  They want what’s best for us.  They may be willing to tell us things we don’t like to hear but they do it from a place of genuine care.  Our inner circle supports us, helps us grow, and is mutually beneficial.  The people we allow there push us toward our potential, make us more effective, and broaden our area of influence.


Then there’s our outer circle.  It’s made up of people who don’t love or care about us.  Some of them we just don’t know and may never interact with.  Others, we might only wish we didn’t know.  We don’t like them, but for some reason we let them influence our actions and how we feel about ourselves.  We spend time fretting about how to handle the drama they bring to our lives.  That part of our outer circle wants to use us, it feels threatened and jealous if we grow, and it will suck our energy and emotions dry.  Those people constrict our potential, make us less effective, and shrink our area of influence.


So how do we handle it when someone from our outer circle is influencing us, pushing our buttons, or creating drama that we let sweep us off our feet?


My solution is to assign the person to a circle based on their past and current behavior…not on what they said or say they’ll do, but on actual actions.  Then I can go from there.


If the person is inner circle, mentally step back and look at what’s happening.  They’re your inner circle and would never want to hurt you if they didn’t have to in order to prove a point.  If they’re pushing your buttons then they’re:

a)     having a problem and aren’t doing a good job of recognizing that they’re projecting

b)     don’t realize that what they’re doing is bothering you, or

c)     pushing you because they think it will help you


If the person is really inner circle quality, then the two of you just need to talk.  Together you’ll be able to work through things or at least agree to disagree.


If the person is outer circle, you can give your time and energy to anyone and anything that you want, but you deserve better people in your life—stop letting outer circle people steal your precious time by giving high priority status to a person who makes you an option.  It really is okay to say ‘no’ and mean it.


But Kathryn, sometimes he/she really pisses me off!  Yeah, outer circle people do that.  But do they do any real harm or is the biggest injury the time you spend fretting about something you can’t change?


If it’s the fretting, then any harm being done is completely within your control to stop.  Letting them get to you is you choosing to give power to someone who doesn’t care about you.  I know it’s really hard, but when they throw the drama card, refuse to play.  Instead:

a)     picture someone in your inner circle and imagine the advice they’d give you

b)     think about someone you love and ask yourself how you’re going to explain to them that you picked spending energy on the person in front of you that you don’t love over the person you do love and who is much more deserving of that energy

c)     think about your goals and ask yourself if spending time on someone else’s drama is worth delaying or never reaching your goals.


For most of the outer circle people in our lives, creating drama around them is the primary mechanism they have in place to prevent others from seeing how insecure, narcissistic, or “damaged” they are while simultaneously getting those people to do things for them…it makes them feel superior.  There will always be someone outer circle people can mislead, fool, and trap within their lies and manipulation.  For it to not be you or me, all we have to do is to understand that someone is using us or treating us in a way we don’t deserve and then we can walk away or stop participating as quickly as possible.


Let me know in the comments how do you deal with the people in your life who constantly stir up drama, play on your emotions, and try to get you to do their work for them.

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9 Responses to “How to handle the people who push your buttons and create drama”

  1. Kathryn Kathryn says:

    If you enjoyed this post, check out my friend, Ryan Murdock’s post on spotting and dealing with manipulative people: http://www.theshapeshifterblog.com/dealing-with-manipulative-people/

  2. […] Comments « How to handle the people who push your buttons and create drama […]

  3. Christina says:

    Great post – wish I weren’t related to most of the people that push my buttons! Can’t cut them off and I doubt that they mean to do those things – they’re just crazy.

  4. Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Thanks Christina, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Family definitely makes it more challenging. It’s the people who do it on purpose that we most need to deal with. The crazy people we can sometimes handle just by reminding ourselves they’re crazy!

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  6. Barbara says:

    Thanks for the article. I just printed four copies for my co-workers. We have one female in another department that does EXACTLY that — “pushes our buttons and creates drama”. All day, every day, all day long 24/7. Although technically she is in our “outer circle” because she works in another department, she often shows up in our INNER circle because she doesn’t have enough to do in her own department. She’s exactly as you’ve described to a “t”: ‘insecure, damaged, and a narcissistic’. She’s personally hurt all of us in our department (my inner circle) and when she’s not hurting one of us she’s plotting to hurt another person. But for 2014, I’ve decided to not let my thoughts of her control my emotions. I’m responsible for my own feelings, they belong to me and I can either chalk this person up to the fact that she’s never going to change and find a better way to react to the ‘drama card’ OR I can leave. I love my job and my department and the work I do and I am not leaving so instead I’m not going to play the drama card anymore. I actually sat down with her last month and after 24 tumultuous months of friction we had a ‘heart to heart’ (it really was more like a ‘mouth to mouth’ since she doesn’t have a heart and I don’t have her in MY heart) but for now, she’s no longer out to get me and we say hello and goodbye and we’re professional and cordial. I can finally breathe around her (for a long time I couldn’t even be in the same room with her because when I was near her I couldn’t physically breathe). But she’s got another 15 years here, I have 23 to go. So, I decided NO MORE. I’m going to just break the ice with an apology (although I’m not sure what for but she accepted it so apparently I did offend her when I bought her a birthday present). That apology changed EVERYTHING. I’m no longer on her shit list and I can breathe again. Your article is SPOT-ON. It’s better than any self-help book that nails it precisely. So thanks!

  7. Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you found the article useful and hope you enjoy your office environment more. 🙂

  8. Tracey says:

    Great article! I too have a co worker who is exactly how you describe and its amazing to watch her in action the way she sucks people into her self induced drama, it sickens me. Anyway this article makes so much sense and has given me the power now to block out anything in the outer circle. I have passed this onto another co worker already!!

  9. Kathryn Kathryn says:

    It’s great to hear that the info in the article helped! Thanks for reading, commenting, and passing it on. 🙂

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