How do you deal with people that are just awful?
Lessons on conflict resolution from watching Netflix
There are people out there in the world that seem to be completely set on making other people’s lives miserable. They just know how to get under their skin. Or maybe they don’t know what they’re doing, lack self awareness, or have a hard time managing high expectations and disappointment.
Whatever the reason, they can be some of the most challenging people to deal with. So what can you do about them?
I’m sure I’m not alone in the number of Netflix binges I’ve accidentally gone through in the past little while. You know the ones where the message comes up and asks if you’re still watching? My answer is almost always yes.
There have been some really good shows, but what pulls me in isn’t necessarily a big celebrity, special effects, or how outlandish it is. It’s a good interpersonal conflict between the characters. It’s no surprise, this is the work that I do and understanding how we interact has long been a passion of mine. From early undergrad psychology classes to advancements in neuroscience, I am often found trying to understand who we are and why we do what we do.
Which takes me to one of my favourites of the past year — Ginny and Georgia. The series flows between comedic moments, awkward teen angst, and deep existential crises. It’s all a part of managing our ever-changing relationships, and two of the characters in particular intrigued me.
(Spoiler alert. You can skip down to the tips if you haven’t seen the show).
There’s a mother and son who act like bullies and seem intent on making life difficult for those around them. Their behaviour comes off as self-centered and they can be cruel to those around them. These characters are the villians of the story, designed to give the protagonists an obstacle to overcome throughout the plot. They’re a part of the hero’s journey, taunting us to judge them harshly for how they treat the people around them.
Then, we see this mother and son at home. We see the boy’s father, her husband, hooked up to a respirator in a hospital bed in their living room. The mother leans over and tenderly strokes his hair, with a sadness and longing in…