5 Tips For Dealing With Unreliable People Without Losing Your Cool

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Whether you always keep your word or have reliability issues yourself, dealing with people who let you down can be disappointing, frustrating, and infuriating. But, unfortunately, most of us can't avoid it. So, how do you survive when you have to deal with unreliable people?

"Whether this is an issue at home or in the workplace, having chronically unreliable people around you can be stressful and detrimental to your own goals," Caleb Backe, a Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "So, finding a way to encourage people to be more reliable is a must — but it’s not always that easy. In some cases, a person’s unreliability may be linked to an underlying emotional issue. Maybe they’re depressed or trying to work out some personal issue or a specific problem in their life, and this is taking too much of their attention away from what they should be doing instead. In other cases, a person may simply be lazy — either of these scenarios require their own unique approach to being solved."

You don't want to come off as nagging the unreliable people in your life, but you also don't want them to stand in the way of what you need to get done. So, here are some tips for dealing with unreliable people patiently and productively, according to experts.


Don't Rely On Them

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If you must deal with unreliable people, at least build in cushions so that their unreliability doesn't affect you. Marriage and Family Therapist Heidi McBain tells Bustle that she recommends, for example, telling a perpetually late person that something begins 15 minutes before it actually does — and bringing a book to read while you're waiting. Or, if you need something from an unreliable person, ask someone else too so that you have a backup.


Use "I" Statements

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If you want to confront someone about their unreliability, focus on how it affects you. "Explain things from your perspective and how it feels for you when they miss important events, are perpetually late, etc.," says McBain. "[This way] they can see things from your perceptive and how hurtful their behavior is because it makes you feel unimportant and is disrespectful of your time and your life."


Figure Out What The Problem Is

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Backe recommends gently asking the unreliable people in your life what's gotten in the way of them keeping their commitments. Maybe it's something you can help them with, or maybe just talking through it will help them improve. If it doesn't seem to be rectifiable, that's valuable information, too. That way, you'll know not to charge them with the same task again.


Remind Them They Can Say "No"

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People often fail to keep their commitments because they make commitments they don't really want to make, Author, Quantum Life Architect, and Self-Love Alchemist Sarah Speaks tells Bustle. "Those who are shaky with their word tend to become resentful against those people or situations they said 'yes' to when their inner being was screaming 'No!!!'" she says. "If we can encourage these people to look inward, they will see how they’ve created this disruptive cycle in their life and that they have the power to put a stop to it whenever they are ready."

So, talk to them about any boundary issues they might have and remind them it's OK to say "no."


Let Them Know What You Won't Tolerate It

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People are often unreliable because they know they can get away with it. So, make it clear to them that you won't continue to rely on them for certain things if they won't deliver them. "The best way I’ve learned to deal with these types of individuals is to use firm language and stand strong in my resolve," says Speaks. "I do not coddle them nor do I allow them to continue with this behavior pattern."

Remember, you also need to take care of yourself. So if an unreliable person is interfering with your life, it's OK to cut them out of it.