How to Deal With Stubborn People (And Be Less Stubborn Yourself)

stubborn people

Nowadays, with the advent of internet and easier ways to get a better education, people who think they hardly ever are wrong, are sure that now they will never be.

As a blogger myself, I know that you can find pretty much anything about any kind of topic.

If you are a conservative person and want defend the “traditional” family values by finding some arguments about why your wife should be a stay-at-home mom, you can definitely find it.

If you are a liberal person and want to find some good points to prove your sexist husband that if you work and raise your kids it won’t ruin their education and scar their emotions for life, you can find that too.

My point is that it doesn’t matter what you are looking for and the perspective you have. You will find something that will make you feel even surer about it online.

For stubborn people, that is the ultimate tool that was missing to be always 100% right.

My best personal example is my father and his father.

They always had a very, very complicated problem communicating with each other.

My grandpa was one of those guys who never went to the doctor because he didn’t trust those young yuppies that never had to do some real hard work in their life.

In his head, if the doctor didn’t work feeding the Titanic with coal in those hell-like machine rooms, he wasn’t a good professional.

Closer to his death, due to emphysema, he claimed that Jesus gave him that disease and that was the reason he should quit smoking. He never listened to all the efforts of my father and the whole family to try to make his life longer.

He was a very stubborn person.

My grandpa never did any kind of physical exercise in his life and never, ever, wore shorts. The doctors said that if he did exercises, as simple as walking around, and wore more shorts he would not have so many skin problems with his legs and circulation issues.

He died saying that walking is for pussies.

Also he worked with many things, so it doesn’t matter what you were talking about; he would know about it. In his words, “I know what I’m talking about, I worked with it!”

My father, in his arguments with his father, was always yelling and saying how ignorant and stubborn my grandpa was, that he had no education and no information.

Now consider someone just like my grandfather, but with 2 college degrees and the internet: Recipe for disaster.

My father always starts a phrase with No.

I call him Mr. No, and it just proves my point when I try to talk to him about it: “Father, you always start your phrases with No, you should listen to people more!”

He replies, “No, because ….”

It works every time, and then he gets angry because he realizes that it’s true and it’s impossible for him to admit it or change it.

He had to choose a sport because he has a chronicle cholesterol issue, and that’s how he kept the levels low.

Of course, after a few years running, he became addicted to running, started training seriously and he got a knee problem. It’s something you can’t beat, especially with age.

I tried, many times, to tell him to take it easy. So did the doctors.

So he preferred to look for a “different opinion” until he could find a doctor that would support his idea. And then after ten different doctors, he claimed “I can run as much as I want, my doctor said so!”

My grandpa is gone, and I hardly ever see my father nowadays, especially because of that.

But my girlfriend is a very stubborn lady.

She is a blogger, so you can tell that she will always pull that card: “I’ve read that bla, bla, bla.”

But at least she is not 50 or 60 years old. She agrees that she is stubborn and she actively tries to change. When she realizes what she is doing, she turns that stubborn barrier off and starts to listen.

Age is something that definitely makes most of people MUCH more stubborn.

Lately I have been having some wins in the grounds of stubbornness. After all, my experience finally allowed me to think that I can help people in that struggle.

The way to make a point to stubborn people is controlling your own stubbornness.

1. Don’t talk about it, talk around it

You can’t argue with someone that is absolutely convinced that they are right.

Have you ever tried to convince a religious fanatic? Well you can’t.

If the person is already 100% sure with no room for mistakes, do you really think there’s any way that discussion will be productive?

If you engage with an argumentative tone, you’ve already failed to change their mind.

Never confront stubborn people. That is the biggest waste of energy you can spend.

Be less confrontational.

2. Use their weapon against them

Usually stubborn people have a way of being sure of things. Discover it; that is their biggest weakness.

With my grandfather I would use: “The father of a friend of mine is a worker in a factory for 30 years, and he said that exercises help out and he is much stronger and more productive than his kids! Why don’t you meet him and share your experiences?” (He is one of those “They don’t make guys like they used to” kind of people.)

With my father though, I would say: “Oh, you should pay this doctor a visit; he is the best in the area and after I started treating myself with him my performance spiked!” (He only cares about results.)

With my girlfriend: “Hey I’ve read those articles or books and they are pretty interesting! Do you want to read them? “(She doesn’t like to be bossed by guys.)

3. When you are right, patience is the key

If you are 100% sure that you are correct, why worry about proving it?

Instead of engaging a very exhaustive argument with a stubborn person, just let time do its thing.

Don’t debate; just make the person aware of your point of view.

Why?

If the person is wrong, eventually she or he will fail. That’s your excuse to talk about it again.

But don’t be the “I told you so” kind of person; that’s the best way to get their stubborn shield on again.

4. Sometimes one step back means two forward

The most fierce and formidable predators on the planet play along with their prey before delivering the final blow.

If you are on the top of the game, play along.

If that person is so sure of what they are talking about, alright, follow them.

When things go wrong, better than the classic “I told you so”, just the look will be a terrible and powerful blow in their stubbornness.

That’s when you say: Hey, why don’t YOU try like this? I will follow your lead!

See? There is no need to be conflictive.

5. Don’t save those who don’t want to be saved

The intelligent ones are the worst.

I have to admit, there is a specific type of stubborn people that exceeds my capacity of understanding.

People who are very intelligent and/or read way too much are a little bit frightening for me, even with all my experience of more than 20 years with VERY stubborn people.

The thing is, they ALWAYS have a resource to tell you why they are right, they never run out of replies.
Sometimes you are just a regular and ordinary person that happened to know the answer like Slumdog Millionaire.

Usually this type of stubborn person, even when they realize they were wrong, they will talk about it like they weren’t.

The worst kind of blind person is the one who doesn’t want to see.

Life is full of people needing and wanting to help; focus your help on those people.

Eventually life and time will, slowly and certainly, show to those stubborn guys how their decisions cost them in the long run.

Sometimes, they will carry it to the grave all alone, but right in their minds.

How do you deal with stubbornness in your everyday life?

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