Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life

Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life

by Mark Goulston


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

"Finally! The book that helps you deal with irrational, impossible people." -Oprah's Book Club 2.0 Because some people are beyond difficult... Let's face it, we all know people who are irrational. No matter how hard you try to reason with them, it never works. So what's the solution? How do you talk to someone who's out of control? What can you do with a boss who bullies, a spouse who yells, or a friend who frequently bursts into tears? In his book, Just Listen, Mark Goulston shared his bestselling formula for getting through to the resistant people in your life. Now, in his breakthrough new book Talking to Crazy, he brings his communication magic to the most difficult group of all-the downright irrational. As a psychiatrist, Goulston has seen his share of crazy and he knows from experience that you can't simply argue it away. The key to handling irrational people is to learn to lean into the crazy-to empathize with it. That radically changes the dynamic and transforms you from a threat into an ally. Talking to Crazy explains this counterintuitive Sanity Cycle and reveals: Why people act the way they do * How instinctive responses can exacerbate the situation-and what to do instead * When to confront a problem and when to walk away * How to use a range of proven techniques including Time Travel, the Fish-bowl, and the Belly Roll * And much more You can't reason with unreasonable people-but you can reach them. This powerful and practical book shows you how.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814436363
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 10/15/2015
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 556,124
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

MARK GOULSTON is a business advisor, consultant, coach, speaker, and psychiatrist. The author of Get Out of Your Own Way and other popular books, he blogs for Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, and Psychology Today; co-hosts a weekly radio show; and is featured frequently in major media, including The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Newsweek, Time, CNN, Fox News, and the TODAY show.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Understanding Crazy

AFTER DECADES as a psychiatrist, I know crazy—and that includes some serious crazy.

How serious? One of my patients stalked Britney Spears, and another jumped off a fifth-story balcony because he thought he could fly. Still another called me from a jail in the Dominican

Republic, saying he was there to start a revolution.

In addition, I’ve worked with 80-pound anorexics, strung-out her-oin addicts, and hallucinating schizophrenics. I’ve taught hostage negotiators how to get homicidal criminals to surrender. And these days, I show CEOs and managers how to deal with out-of-control people who threaten their companies’ bottom lines.

In short, crazy and I are pretty much on a first-name basis.

However, a while ago, something occurred to me: I expect to deal with crazy every day, because it’s my job. But I suddenly realized how often you have to face down crazy—not the jump-off-a-balcony a stalk-Britney-Spears kind of crazy, but what I call everyday crazy.

My “aha” moment occurred when I went to a meeting for estate planners who needed advice about helping families in crisis. a expected the event to be a little dry, but instead, I was mesmerized. a found out that just like me, these people have to “talk to crazy”

every day. In fact, nearly every issue they discussed involved clients acting completely nuts.

These lawyers had no trouble writing wills and creating trusts.

But what they didn’t know, and desperately needed to know, was what to do when they can’t stop their clients from acting crazy.

That’s when it dawned on me that everyone—including you—has this problem. I’m betting that nearly every day, you deal with at least one irrational person. Maybe it’s a boss who wants the impossible.

Maybe it’s a demanding parent or a hostile teen or a manipulative coworker or a neighbor who’s always in your face. Maybe it’s a tear-ful lover or an unreasonable client.

And that’s what this book is all about: talking to crazy.

Now, a word about the word crazy: I know it sounds inflammatory and totally un-PC. But when I use this word, I don’t mean mentally ill (although mental illness—which I’ll address separately in Section 5—certainly causes crazy behavior). And I don’t use the word crazy to stigmatize one group of people either. That’s because all of us, at some points in time, are crazy.

What I mean by crazy is irrational. There are four ways in which the people you deal with can be irrational:

- They can’t see the world clearly.

- They say or think things that make no sense.

- They make decisions and take actions that aren’t in their best interest.

- They become downright impossible when you try to guide them back to the side of reason.

In this book, I’ll share my best tricks for breaking through to people who are irrational in these ways. I’ve used these techniques to do everything from settling office feuds to rescuing marriages a and you can use them just as effectively to handle the irrational people in your life.

Table of Contents



SECTION 1 The Basics of Talking to Crazy

1 Understanding Crazy

2 Recognizing How Crazy Happens

3 Spotting an Irrational Person’s M.O.

4 Knowing When to Talk to Crazy and When to Walk Away

SECTION 2 Facing Your Own Crazy First

5 Pinpointing Your Own Crazy

6 Keeping Your Own Crazy at Bay When You’re Under Attack

7 Regrouping When Crazy Wins

SECTION 3 Fourteen Tactics for Talking to Crazy

8 The Belly Roll: Putting the Irrational Person “in Charge” to Defuse a Tense Situation

9 The A-E-U Technique: Highly Effective—But Scary

10 Time Travel: Getting an Irrational Person to Stop Dwelling on the Past and Focus Instead on the Future

11 The Eye of the Hurricane: Finding the Sane Inside the Crazy

12 Digging Down to Disappointment: Dealing with Emotional People Who Don’t Really Mean What They’re Saying

13 The Fishbowl: Bringing an Irrational Person’s Mirror Neurons into Play

14 The Split Second: How to Handle an Irrational Person Who’s Playing You Against Someone Else

15 The Three L’s: Helping an Irrational Person Cope with Extreme Fear

16 The Butter-Up: Getting a Know-It-All to Behave

17 Executive Order: Getting a Martyr to Accept Help

18 Coup Contrecoup: Turning an Irrational Person’s M.O. to Your Own Advantage

19 The Kiss-Off (and the Gentle Kiss-Off): Saying No to a Manipulator

20 Frenemies: Handling a “Toxic Deflector” at Work

21 I Know What You’re Hiding: Getting a Sociopath out of Your Life

SECTION 4 Eight Ways to Deal with Crazy in Your Personal Life

22 You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling? Handling Your Mutual Crazy in a Relationship

23 Shock Absorber: Getting Through to an Emotional Partner

24 Copy Cat: Getting a Strong-and-Silent Partner to Talk

25 Child A or Child B? Going Through a Divorce Without Wrecking Your Kids for Life

26 “What’s the Worst Thing for You?” Being There for a Parent, Partner, or Child in Pain

27 The Reconnect: Healing a Broken Relationship with an Adult Child

28 The Assumptive Close: Getting an Aging Parent to Accept Help

29 The Four H’s and Four R’s: Rebuilding a Personal Relationship After an Irrational Person Breaks It

SECTION 5 What to Do When Crazy Is Actually Mental Illness

30 Where to Turn When Crazy Is Above Your Pay Grade

31 How to Get the Person to Say Yes to Getting Help

32 What to Do if You Think Someone May Be Suicidal

33 Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Preventing the Next Sandy Hook



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