As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.
People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys, by Mike Bechtle, is a book I would have liked to have read years ago. That would have saved me considerable frustration, with myself and with others. It explains some things I’ve wondered about for a long time (like why I can’t come up with a quick reply in a conversation).
As the title suggests, this is not a textbook (read “dry and boring”) type of book. Instead, Dr. Bechtle uses personal illustrations, humor, and stories to make his points about dealing with difficult people, whether they be family members, co-workers, bosses, or others you spend time with regularly. You know—those people who just DRIVE YOU CRAZY!
Some points which jumped out at me are:
- You can’t change other people; you can only change yourself. You can influence other people, but it has to be their decision to change.
- Change comes slowly, whether to you or the other person. “Crazy people” learned those behaviors over time, so it takes time to change.
- Crazy people may drive you crazy, but they are still human, still made in God’s image. The craziness isn’t all there is about that person.
- The “old-fashioned” virtues of kindness, humility, patience, and gratitude are still needed as you deal with your crazy person.
- Set boundaries and be prepared to sound like a broken record to defend your boundaries. You will need to defend them.
- A person’s basic temperament—whether introverted or extroverted—doesn’t change, so don’t try. To try just puts a lot more stress on the relationship, and neither one of you needs that.
- What you can’t change, you can often adapt to.
- Be proactive, not reactive. Dr. Bechtle suggests ways to give thought to situations, and then act upon what you’ve considered, instead of having a “knee-jerk” reaction. This one point alone made the book valuable for me, a person who tends to react, but wants to move away from that tendency.
- Thoughts lead to emotions, which lead to behaviors. A change in thought patterns means a change in emotions, which means behaviors change.
- There is quite a difference between expectations, and expectancy. Expectations about people often lead to bitter disappointment; expectancy means you are operating from a position of hope. You know there are no guarantees that your crazy person will change, but there’s the possibility.
- This book is about relationships; it’s really about the importance of faith and hope in relationships with difficult people.
People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys is one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read about personality and relationships. It’s a book I’ll read again, probably soon; this time, to take notes.