Is there someone in your life who’s always got some new idea, some great scheme to be getting excited about? Do they have trouble completing tasks, not good at staying focused? Do they drive you mad?
You may just be spending too much time with an Impulsive Person, someone who can’t sit still, who embraces new ideas and gets excited about a great many things and thinks this will be the solution, the next best thing, exactly what you should be doing.
All of us act on impulse from time to time: it’s a perfectly normal human behaviour. We act on our ‘gut feeling’, something instinctive without following it through with much thought. But Impulsive People spend most of their time not thinking things through, ignoring consequences, quitting their job, not seeing things through to the end. Think of your friend who can’t hold down a job, didn’t complete uni; can’t commit to a relationship – probably an Impulsive Personality in there.
It’s all about NOW for Impulsive People. There may be consequences but they’re too far in the future to worry about. Impulsive People however, are more likely to over-eat, sleep around, self-harm and have a greater craving for drugs than their non-impulsive brothers and sisters. For the Impulsive Person it’s all about what’s right for them (not you) right now. This is what makes them so impossible to live with.
We need Impulsive People, they jolt us pedestrian, recidivist, fear-of-change lot out of our complacency: they help us to have an exciting time, a less boring life.
But living with, working for, or being the friend of an Impulsive Person can be very hard work. Here are some tips for managing and surviving your own Impulsive Other.
Your Friend – perhaps the easiest Impulsive Other to manage as friends do move in and out of your life and it is your choice whether to remain friends or ditch them after one too many impulsive episodes that hung just this side of sanity. When you’re young an impulsive friend is good fun. They encourage you to be silly, to take risks, to live your life large. And, without doubt there is a place for that. We would all be very boring people if we weren’t impulsive from time to time or took a few risks. The impulsive friend causes problems when two things happen – 1/ your values change and you want different things from life; and 2/ the impulsive behaviour becomes more than risky, in fact is life threatening.
What do you do to minimize damage from your Impulsive Friend?
There is no need to eliminate your impulsive friend from your life altogether.
1.Limit your time with them; ensure you’re not alone with them anymore. Don’t go on shopping sprees, drinking binges, or adventure holidays.
2.Help them to see their behaviour is damaging their life and your relationship – help them count to ten before acting, encourage them to do different things with their time and when you’re together.
Your Boss – he wants quick answers, doesn’t allow you to think before you speak. He also shoots from the hip instead of pausing, thinking then speaking. He contradicts himself and often gives an impulsive, thoughtless answer in a situation. He’s not one for keeping minutes or agendas. Communication within the organisation is chaotic; people don’t know what is happening, what exactly their job is anymore. The impulsive boss is susceptible to new ideas – usually from outside the organisation, the latest conference he’s attended. He gets excited about things and before you know it, there it is: something new and shiny, that hasn’t been thought through, time impacted, work impacted – checked at all to see if it actually adds to the organisation. The impulsive boss is dangerous because of the way he can react to his staff; because he is so unmeasured in his responses he can react badly to people who don’t see the world as he does, or who actively disagree with him. He can personalise matters too much and make it his personal crusade to remove you from the organisation.
What can you do to manage your Impulsive Boss?
This can be very difficult and you may be better off moving to a different department or job, but there are some harm minimization things you can do.
1.Keep minutes of all meetings you have with your boss – your own version, do not rely on memory or his notes. If you can’t make notes in the meeting, then write an email confirming the discussion and what was agreed as soon as you can. This gives you a paper trail for when the proverbial hits the fan further down the track.
2.Keep communication channels open with others in your department or who also deal with your boss to triangulate what is happening in the organisation: so you know if you’re all being told the same thing. There is strength in numbers.
3.Keep your head down and ignore as much of the impulsiveness as possible – you know how to do your job, so get on with it. Yes, this can be very hard, but it is a way to cope. Remain true to your own integrity and standards, although it may seem impossible.
4.Remember, as an impulsive person your boss will most likely not see things through, will get bored with his current position or project and move on. He is more likely to leave than you are, as he’s more likely to make a large, expensive mistake due to his impulsiveness.
5.You need to decide if you can endure the misery of his management style or if it is better for you to move on.
Your Partner – an Impulsive Partner can be the most wonderful romantic person in the world. There are flowers at work, a sweet text or two in the day, a weekend in Paris for no reason at all. They keep you on your toes, but for all the right reasons, they seem devoted to you and up for fun and excitement at a moment’s notice. You live in a whirl of activity. In the beginning this is exactly what you want, but as you settle in you’ll see that a quiet night at home perhaps isn’t so easy for your partner, who finds just you, a DVD and a bottle of wine not quite enough for them. Watch for the person who can’t sit still, who moves from activity to activity, who has a range of windows open on their PC, playing games, checking their FP and Twitter account, flicking onto Amazon. Watch them buy things because they seemed too good a bargain to miss, watch them mismanage their money, watch them quit their job in a flash because something intolerable has happened, but they don’t have another job to go to. The problem is that it’s most likely you haven’t realised there was a problem until you were completely enmeshed with this person; living together, married, debts and/or children.
So, now you love them how do you live with them?
This is the hardest Impulsive Other to manage – your partner, your lover. You were swept away by their impulsiveness to begin with, but it’s wearing to live with, and unlike your friend or your boss your feelings are deeper and stronger so you need to be able to cope.
1.Pinpoint their major impulsive weakness – it could be gambling, drugs, alcohol, spending recklessly – can you live with this? If not, if their weakness is too damaging to your life together you must go. Impulsive people do become addicts and most of us can’t help an addict unless they help themselves.
2.You can’t afford to be utterly dependent on your Impulsive Partner – you need a job, your own friends and time out from your partner. If you are in control of your life their damage can be minimized. You can help them spend less, drink less, gamble less. If they throw in their job the end of the world won’t come if you can still pay the mortgage while they get over themselves.
3.You will need to confront them with their damaging behaviours, see how they can change, if you can help them minimise the damage to your lives together, or help them get help from a professional.
4.It’s much harder to leave someone you love but if their impulsive ways are too extreme you may have no alternative in the end, especially if children are involved.
We all need a bit of recklessness, a bit of who-gives-a-f* in our lives. There’s nothing wrong with spontaneity but when it dips over into impulsiveness you need to know the warning signs and what you need to do to cope with it. (images courtesy Google Images)