Talking to Crazy | Mark Goulston

Summary of: Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life
By: Mark Goulston


In ‘Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life,’ author Mark Goulston deciphers the puzzling aspects of irrational behavior and offers valuable insights to empathize and communicate with people experiencing periods of ‘craziness’. Remember, craziness in this context refers to irrational behavior rather than mental illness. The book summary covers various strategies, such as understanding the modus operandi of a person’s craziness, maintaining patience, and cooperating with them to regain control. This introduction is just a glimpse of the in-depth guidance Goulston provides to improve interactions with the so-called crazy people in your life.

The Art of Managing Craziness

Anyone can have a moment of irrational behavior, whether they are clinically ill or not. This behavior can manifest in a few ways, including distorted views of reality, refusal to listen to reason, saying nonsensical things, or acting out against one’s own interests. The first step in dealing with such behavior is to admit to one’s own craziness. Understanding your own tendencies can help you empathize with others and avoid getting upset or acting irrationally when dealing with them. It’s important to recognize triggers of crazy behavior and work towards finding a solution instead of making things worse. Admitting to your own craziness can help you calm down other crazy people and prevent them from driving you batty.

Dealing with Crazy Behavior

When faced with erratic behavior, arguing is never helpful. Such behavior is often rooted in past experiences. Instead, identify the modus operandi and empathize with the person to talk them back into a saner state. Understanding their triggers and the behavior patterns can help one communicate with the individual better. By acknowledging their feelings and approaching the issue from their perspective, you can make them more receptive to sane reasoning. Ultimately, it is better to communicate with such individuals than to be negatively affected by their behavior.

Dealing with Crazy People

Understanding the root causes of crazy behavior, and developing strategies to improve interactions with them can make a lot of difference.

Why do people behave in crazy ways? It’s often about control. Even though their behavior may be rooted in their past, people who act in this way often do so because they want to feel in control. Losing control or being pushed out of a conversation can trigger shouting or other outrageous behavior – all tactics aimed at overpowering the other person involved to feel in control.

But there are ways to deal with crazy people and avoid power struggles, such as cooperating with them instead of trying to overcome their aggressive tactics. For instance, if you let a crazy person stay in charge and have the control they seek, they’ll be less motivated to continue acting crazily.

You can also diffuse a crazy situation by apologizing, remaining empathetic, and preempting a tirade by saying angry things before the crazy person has a chance to say them. By beating them to the punch, you undercut their need to be passive-aggressive and allow you both to move on.

It’s also important to establish clear boundaries with crazy people. For instance, if someone shouts at you on the phone, let them know that you will hang up if they continue shouting. The person will realize that there’s a line they can’t cross and be less likely to shout in the future.

By understanding the root causes of crazy behavior and developing strategies to improve interactions, dealing with crazy people can be less stressful and more productive.

Calming Down a Crazy Person

When dealing with a person in a temporary state of craziness, remember that their craziness does not define them entirely. They still have an inner sanity that is receptive to reason. You can tap into this sanity by engaging the person in a mundane conversation that may distract them from their current source of stress. Wait until the person is calm, then address the outburst and ask for advice on how to handle similar situations in the future. Be patient, as lashing out is often an impulse during crazy episodes. Logical people may be tempted to remove themselves from the situation; however, it is essential to realize that the person’s actions may not reflect their true feelings. Hence, it’s best to wait until the person is calm before making any hasty decisions.

Dealing with Manipulative Behavior

Manipulators try to change “no” to “yes.” By not letting them manipulate you and being clear but gentle, you can deal with their behavior. When someone fears rejection, they might refuse help or not ask for it. Directly tell them to ask you for help when they need it and check in with them regularly.

Manipulative behavior can take many forms, from screaming and crying to something more subtle, like manipulation. People often try to manipulate others because they refuse to take “no” for an answer, hoping to change it to a “yes”. Manipulators may try to split two people apart as a way to vent anger. You can deal with such attempts by being clear with these people but also maintain a gentle approach. By telling the manipulator that you are interested in what he has to say, yet you’d like to speak with the third person who is being badmouthed, you can point out that he may be overreacting. Anger is always counterproductive, so remain calm in dealing with these situations.

When a person fears getting a “no,” they might also react by refusing to ask for help. They could be acting this way because they’ve been rejected before when asking for help in the past. In this scenario, the person might avoid asking for help at all costs or even refuse it, if offered. You can deal with this by directly telling them to ask you for help when they need it. Checking in with them regularly to ensure everything is okay is also crucial because they might not tell you if it’s not.

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