The Complicator

posted in: Mindfulness | 0

I like simple. The simpler the better. Whether it’s an uncluttered home, a great meal, or a big project I’m working on, I feel much more at peace when things are less complicated. When my world is uncluttered, my brain is uncluttered too.

I wasn’t always like that. There was a time I liked the drama of chaos, or at least I thought I did. I even remember telling my sister something like “I thrive under chaos.” Her response? “Well you must, you create enough of it.” But that was in a whole other time in my life, one I’m happy to leave behind.

We all know those who love to complicate every project that they take on. They create this whirlwind of activity, and it can be easy to get pulled in to the fracas. What often happens is that the project becomes so complicated that it never even gets off the ground. In fact the person responsible for the whirlwind, often focuses on all the reasons this project will not work. I’m not going to speculate on why some people create this level of complexity, I’ll leave that to the experts.

Instead, let’s talk about ways you can avoid the “clutter” that surrounds these people. Obviously, you’re not going to change them, and you can change how you respond. That’s one of the things I like best about my meditation practice – I have learned to choose my responses, instead of just reacting. So consider the following:

  • Be sure to listen first. Everyone wants to be heard and feel acknowledged. Don’t discard what this person has to say just because they have a track record of creating chaos. And I mean actively listening without thinking about what you’re going to say next, without discarding it before they even begin.
  • Have compassion. We have challenges in our lives and we have no idea what this person is going through.
  • It’s okay to say “no.” Unless it’s a project at work that you’re required to do, or something that really interests you, don’t feel obligated to say yes just because you were asked. Even if you agree to be a part of something, and then you realize you’d rather not work with this person, you can change your mind. Really, it’s ok.
  • Don’t argue or become angry. You’re never going to convince someone of anything by resorting to anger. Go high.
  • Set your own boundaries. You also have the right to be assertive (but not aggressive) by saying something like, “This doesn’t work for me.” And then make some suggestions on what will work.

Working in a group with someone like this can add to the complication, especially when you’re the one in charge. I think most committees include someone of this nature, and it can bring down everyone involved. Here are some ideas that may work in group situations:

  • Get organized. The most important step may be in the planning. Make sure everyone knows the goals and the steps to get there.
  • Have clearly defined roles. Be sure everyone on the committee has been assigned responsibilities and those responsibilities are very clear and concise.
  • Address any problems quickly. When I put something off because I think I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings, I find I end up getting angry and then handle the situation all wrong. This is definitely a work-in-progress for me.
  • Ask questions. When you know someone to be a complicator, you tend to expect them to complicate a project. That may not always be the case though, so if you don’t agree with something, ask them why they are doing it this way. They may have a good reason.
  • Take charge. If you’re in charge, don’t let the project get away from you. That doesn’t mean you have to control anything, just keep things tightly focused around the goal of the project.

Some final thoughts: Dealing with the complicator can be exhausting. They often have a problem for every solution you come up with, disagree with everything you say, and then try to make you feel bad for standing your ground. Remember, that’s about them, not you. Be sure to work your self care practice on a regular basis, set boundaries and be honest with yourself and others.

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