How to Handle a Loud Mouth
Who Hasn't Run Into a Loud Mouth
We’ve all had run-ins with bossy and controlling personalities that think they know-it-all about everything. These people look for trouble before there is any. They think it’s their job to tell us what they know and give us a seminar while they’re at it. An hour or two in a room with big-mouth personalities might tempt us to run the other way and never return. But, what do we do if this narcissistic-type personality is a family member? Do we become a victim to their barrages? Do we cut off ties? Or, are there ways we can manage our relationship?
We can point out to them how what they say affects us, but certainly we can’t change them. When we’ve had enough and blown our fuse, these bullies resort to blaming us for being overly-sensitive.
Chances are, the way these big-mouths treat us, is the way they treat countless others. If they could just step outside and see themselves as others see them, they would be mortified, but something seems to prevent them from doing that. They have to be the only one in the room that is right and in control.
While big-mouth’s think they’re being helpful by offering unsolicited criticism or advice, we see it as dominance and disrespect. No one wants to live under the thumb of this type of person. So how do we deal with them?
- Limit our time. We can set boundaries such as the number of hours or locations we will be near them. We can reduce or eliminate email or telephone exchanges, meet in neutral locations that we can leave if necessary, only meet them if others are with us—generally limit conversation and encounters with them. (Like a dog protecting its turf, we will be out-matched while on the big-mouth’s turf, so we should be vigil when we are.)
Watch Your Time
- Limit the amount of time they are in our domain. Never should we give big-mouths a key to our house or office, or welcome them for lengthy periods of time under our roof. During a visit, we can focus on activities where conversation, opinions and opportunity for criticism are minimized. We can take them out, or arrange for another person to take over entertaining them, to give ourselves a break.
- Keep information to ourselves. Offering too much information, gives more ammunition for a big-mouth to shoot us down. It’s unfortunate that big-mouths miss much about us because we have to edit ourselves
- Keep opinions to a minimum. Be prepared, that if we do have an opinion and express it, we may get seven back from the big-mouth, telling us why ours is wrong. Don’t walk into a trap!
- Compliment them. There’s nothing a narcissists like more, than to feel important and liked. If we can put then in a good mood, they might decide not to attack. Look for something we have in common and comment about something good they do.
- Listen. When sharing our point of view doesn’t work, or when it is thrown back in our face, we learn it is better to say nothing. If we instead, listen to the big-mouth’s banter for as long as we can (without exploding), nodding every now and then, we give her what she wants—an audience. Listening doesn’t give big-mouths something to fight about. We have to just make sure we don’t absorb the garbage and stress unknowingly being dumped on us.
- Use tactical responses. When big-mouths suggest something to us, we can respond by saying “that’s an interesting idea” and that we’ll think about it. We don’t have to take the advice at all (unless it’s good). We can later come back and say, “I thought about what you said, and I won’t be doing it, but it did help me make decisions about what I do want to do.
- Always come up smelling like a rose. It might help if we can see the big-mouth as a “special needs” person, who is not worth raising our blood pressure over. Being a peacemaker is much better than being a fighter.
- Take simple shots. Rather than copying the long-winded argumentative opinions big-mouths throw our way, we can toss out strategic comments that show we do know a thing or two. Simple shots are also effective in change the subject and doing damage control.
- Take a break. It may become necessary to leave the room when a big-mouth personality gets under our skin. We can excuse ourselves to the washroom, make a telephone call, run an errand, go for a walk, etc. Going out for a walk or getting fresh air can help relieve the pressure that’s been building up beneath us, providing stress relief as we release endorphins. (Don’t worry about leaving a big-mouth alone, she will know only too well how to take care of herself.)
- We usually can’t change the behaviour of big-mouths, but we can change the way we deal with them. If we look for nuggets of truth in what they say, we may actually learn something from them.
- In most cases big-mouths are bombastic because they want to feel needed. They want to “help”, even if we don’t ask for it. By making others look bad, big-mouths make themselves feel good. They are stuck in a desperate circle of constantly trying to justify their worth with an inflated sense of self.
- Unfortunately, all the good tactics in the world can leave us feeling like a doormat. We shouldn’t be afraid to defend ourselves, but unfortunately with these people it’s hardly worth the effort. Showing we are unaffected by the big-mouth’s blather, might give them a powerful message.
- Whatever we do, it’s important to look after ourselves, our family, our mental health and our stress levels. We don’t need to become an on-going punching bag for a big-mouth know-it-all. If the relationship is excessively toxic, it is better to distance ourselves or terminate the relationship.