We’ve all seen it, people who feel that they deserve preferences and resources that others do not.
It happens at the store when a person who just shows up cuts in front of you after you have waited in line for over 10 minutes.
It happens at work when a co-worker constantly leaves most of the workload for others and then feels they should get promoted.
It happens at home when an adult child living at home, refuses to clean up their room or get a job and expects his/her parents to cook and clean for them while providing a ready supply of cash.
The list can go on of ways that you might have experienced people who are entitled. Some people wear entitlement like a crown, and they are rude, demanding with their requests and then become resentful and disappointed when things do not go their way. For other people its much more subtle and all you end up with is a feeling of manipulation.
How do you know if it is an innocent request for help or an entitled demand? It starts with looking at their attitude - do they genuinely think that they are better or more important than those around them? When you give towards a need a non-entitled person has, they will respond with gratitude. Whereas, if they are entitled, they will respond with a "should". If you are unable to help them, they become angry or sad instead of just accepting your answer.
How do you deal with them?
Entitled people hold all kinds of expectations – the co-worker just expects you to cover the slack, your friend just expects you to babysit her kids at a moment notice. Often the expectations are dropped on you and you are expected to pick them up. You don’t have to. Leave them there where they dropped and let them figure it out. Make it clear that you will not or can not do what they are asking. If there is a parameter to it, explain it. Like, I would be happy to watch your children if there was proper notice and it fits in with my schedule. Then until they meet your parameter then the answer is no.
Treat everyone the same
We’ve all heard that there are exceptions to every rule. This is a motto that an entitled person lives by which leads to their unrealistic expectations. If you adopt a philosophy that everyone is treated the same and there is not any flexibility on rules, then everyone around you will feel more safe and secure, including yourself.
Be empathetic towards them
It makes us angry when someone acts superior often because we are giving into the demands and feel taken advantage of. Instead of looking at it as a win-lose situation, start viewing them through the lenses of empathy. There is something off in their life for them to present themselves this way to the world. Therefore, remind yourself that it is their issue not you that is causing this. This will help build your empathy towards them and open the door to realizing that by setting limits, it can help them become healthier.
To sum up, treat them as you would want someone to treat you, with respect and compassion without removing their responsibilities.
Trish Pauls, MA RP