Entitlement is a serious problem that will intrude and disturb your life. An entitled person is often self-centered, demanding, and unable to compromise with other people.
Entitled people live by the saying, “My way or the highway!” and will often force unreasonable demands and expectations on the people around them.
The unfortunate thing about entitlement is that it often comes from an unhappy place. The roots of entitlement typically start in childhood with inconsistent parenting. The parent refuses to set and enforce the kinds of healthy boundaries that a child needs in order to understand that they can’t always have their way in life. It’s situations like, “Oh, well, you didn’t do your homework, but you can still go to your friend’s house.” That teaches the child that the boundaries can be pushed or ignored.
Helicopter parenting also contributes to entitlement. The child doesn’t learn that they have to actually do the work if their parent fixes their problems for them. That’s like the parent that blames the teacher for giving their child a bad grade, talking to the teacher about the grade to try and get it changed, instead of asking the child why they didn’t do the work.
These lessons follow the child into adulthood as entitlement. They’ve gotten their way, they’ve always gotten their way, and if you don’t give them their way, then you may be met with hostility, anger, or abuse. The entitled person may try to bully you into a course of action that may not be right for you so they can meet their own needs and wants.
Dealing with an entitled person is challenging, but it can be done.
5 Ways To Deal With Entitled People
1. Set limits and establish your boundaries.
First and foremost, you need to understand where your limits and boundaries are. If you do not, other people will regularly push and try to overrun them.
You will need to be able to clearly communicate what your limit is and/or your expectations of how something will occur. If you don’t want to do something, then don’t let them force you into doing the thing that you don’t want to.
But suppose you are okay with doing the thing. In that case, you can outline how it needs to go down and only agree to do the thing when they demonstrate they can follow your expectations.
Here”s an example:
Mary’s brother Ken wants her to watch his kids for him so he can go to an event on Friday night. Mary may want to spend time with her nieces and nephews, so she finds this agreeable, but Mary has a date planned for Saturday night. Mary tells Ken that the kids can sleep over, but he needs to pick them up on Saturday because she has plans. Ken doesn’t tell her that his event lasts all weekend, and he has no intention of picking up his kids until Sunday night when he gets home.
In this scenario, Mary set a boundary that Ken decided to overlook because he felt his needs were more important than those of his sister and children.
The next time Ken asks for a favor or for Mary to watch his kids, she will have to set a stricter boundary and say no if she doesn’t want to get taken advantage of. Ken should hopefully see that he can’t just drop his kids off with Mary and take off if she refuses to watch them again.
2. Use soft language to prevent conflicts.
There are times when it’s good to be hard, and other times when it’s good to be soft. Using softer language with entitled people can help prevent conflicts before they explode.
Entitled people usually don’t react well to not getting their way. You may have to be the diplomatic one for whatever reason. Maybe it’s a boss or a family member who you can’t just tell to get lost if they want to be a jerk.
In Mary’s scenario, she might tell her brother something like, “I’d love to spend time with the kids, but only if you can come to pick them up on Saturday morning.” That puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Ken.
A softer approach is also beneficial in the workplace, where social etiquette may be of much greater importance. Perhaps Mary helped a coworker with a project. Now that coworker is regularly dropping more and more of her work onto Mary. In that scenario, she’ll have a much easier time with the coworker with something like, “I’d love to help you, but I just don’t have enough time to get everything done.”
The entitled person will usually complain or try to persuade Mary into bending, but she needs to stick to her limits and boundaries to ensure that they are respected.
3. Identify the difference between a need and want.
Entitled people often want a lot. They often want things they didn’t earn or deserve. They may feel like they are entitled to time, attention, possessions, whatever.
Much of the time, these things are just wants that the person has, not needs. Whether or not you’re dealing with a want or a need may help inform you of how to navigate the situation.
A person trying to fulfill a need may not be thinking in the most empathetic ways. For example, maybe you have a friend who has a lot of mental health challenges. They may need a lot of attention or require a lot of energy because they struggle to stay afloat. It isn’t that they want to be in that situation at all. They have a need to try to keep themselves above water while their problems are trying to drag them under.
They may be greatly imposing on your time because they don’t have a healthy way to deal with those problems yet. They may not be coming from a place of entitlement.
It will be much easier to identify when you should be flexible if you can spot the differences between the need and the want. Not everyone who is imposing is entitled, especially if they are suffering and having a hard time.
4. Keep your compassion in mind.
So you’re dealing with an entitled person who is just a pain. They’re demanding, bossy, and may even be lying to try to get their way in the end. After all, they feel like they deserve what they’re after, so there’s no reason for them to play fair in their mind.
Keep your compassion in mind. It will help you deal with the frustration and annoyance of an entitled person. That person probably doesn”t have healthy or happy relationships with other people. It’s pretty much impossible to have a good, healthy relationship with someone who feels they are entitled to step all over others to get what they want.
Not only does that make for a lonely existence, it actually reinforces the negative behavior because people with healthy boundaries aren’t necessarily going to put up with it.
It’s very likely the entitled person was failed by their parents or guardians at a young, vulnerable age. They aren’t necessarily your enemy or wish you ill. They’re a hurt person who is doing hurtful things.
5. Remember, it’s not your job to fix anyone.
That being said, it’s not your job to fix anyone. You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves. The best thing you can do is model better behavior by treating that person fairly, even if it’s tempting to be harsher to them than your more reasonable associates. That will typically just make the situation worse.
Stick to your boundaries and see whether or not they respect them. If they do, that’s a great thing. It means they are listening and willing to adapt. But if they’re not, you may just have to stop doing favors for the person altogether or even cut off contact.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What can I do if my boss is an entitled person?
If your boss or superior is the one who has a sense of entitlement, you may find yourself doing things for them that are outside of your job description. They may expect you to get them a coffee, run errands for them, or take on duties that they should be handling themselves. This can mean you don”t have enough time to take care of the things you are actually responsible for in your role, which can then lead to dissatisfaction from the same boss who is draining you of your time.
You”re in a tough situation here. This person has a say over your job security and your salary among other things. You want to avoid causing too much friction in your relationship because it could lead to negative outcomes for you.
You should definitely use the soft language talked about above rather than resort to open conflict. But you should still try to enforce some boundaries or make them see that their demands of you are preventing you from doing a good job.
Try clear but friendly statements such as, “Sure, I can go and get your jacket dry cleaned, but it will mean that the report you wanted won”t be finished until tomorrow morning. Is that okay or do you want me to concentrate on the report first?”
This phrasing puts the ball back in their court. It gives them the power to decide what they want most of all. Just be sure that if they still want you to go to the dry cleaners, that they can”t then demand you finish the report by the end of the day or that you stay late to do it. This is where you can enforce your fair boundary in an assertive but peaceful way by saying something like, “I”m going to have to put the finishing touches to that report tomorrow. I simply won”t have the time to finish it today because I took time out to get your jacket cleaned.”
If they get irritated or angry at you because you”ve enforced your boundaries, it might be worth looking for another job in the medium to long term. You shouldn”t have to endure this aggressive or abusive treatment just to earn a living.
Are entitled people narcissists?
Whilst it”s true that narcissists are entitled people, not all entitled people are necessarily narcissists. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is more complex than simply having a sense of entitlement.
When a child grows up in an environment where boundaries are not enforced and their every want and wish is granted regardless of how much they deserve it, they may become adults who expect that treatment to continue.
They may not consciously realize the extent to which they are putting other people out by demanding certain things of them. Or they may assume that people are more agreeable to their requests than is actually the case.
When they are met with firm boundaries, they may simply look for someone else with weaker boundaries to meet their entitled demands. They may label those with firm boundaries as being rude, unhelpful, or arrogant even though they might not be any of those things.
These are behaviors you might expect from a narcissist, but they alone do not make someone a narcissist.
You may also like:
- Sense Of Entitlement: 5 Clear Signs Someone Has One
- How To Combat An Overblown Sense Of Entitlement
- 9 Reasons The Self-Entitled Are Always Unhappy