How to Do Just About Anything

From organizing your closet to surviving a nuclear disaster, we’ve got dozens of new skills for you to try.



(page 7 of 9)

[Relationships]

…Deal with Cheapskates

Let’s face it, there’s at least one in every bunch—including every family. What to do? Melissa Leonard, a local etiquette/protocol consultant  (establishyourselfNY.com) advises:

1: When out to dinner with a cheapskate, suggest that each of you covers his own expense for the meal. This way neither party feels awkward or annoyed when the bill arrives.

2: When exchanging gifts with a cheapskate, set a money limit. And, more importantly, keep it low.

3: When it comes to how much money you think a cheapskate should spend on you when it’s his/her turn, keep your expectations modest. Rather than getting mad at what you perceive to be his/her lack of generosity, think of it as a lesson in being thrifty (and remember it is the thought that truly counts).

…Manage Adult Bullies

You know that theory that bullies are insecure and hate themselves deep down? Well, it’s a myth, says The Bully Coach, aka Joel Haber, a White Plains-based psychologist and expert on child and adult bullying. And that goes not just for bullies on the schoolyard, but for bullies in the boardroom and the workplace, too. So, if you think you’re gonna stop a bully by helping her feel good about herself, forget about it. She already feels good about herself—too good. And that’s the problem. She feels even better when she gets the better of you. “On PET scans, their pleasure centers actually light up when they hurt people,” Haber says. Here are his tips on how to deflect and combat bullying.

1: Look ’Em in the Eye. Bullies thrive on intimidation, says Haber. If you’re on the receiving end of verbal bullying or abuse, “look the bully in the eye, and try to remain level-headed and as emotionless as possible,” says Haber. If you refuse to engage, the bully will soon lose steam—and maybe even some confidence.

2: Shrug It Off. Some adult bullying takes the form of simple (but mean and hurtful) exclusion—from groups, events, or cliques. Often, the bully will make it a point to let you know that you’re being excluded, just to hurt or embarrass you. In those cases, “a simple ‘whatever’ often works well.”

3: Be Direct. If possible, deal with the bully head-on. If your next-door neighbor consistently parks in your driveway, “ask him, calmly, to please not do it again,” says Haber. Often, the shock and embarrassment of being confronted will end the problem.

4: Seek Outside Help. What if the office bully is your boss? What if the neighbor has a history of violence? “You may need to speak to someone in human resources, or to the police,” says Haber, and make sure your complaint is kept confidential. “If your boss or another co-worker is a bully, and there’s no human resources department, you may have to try more than one tactic.” Unfortunately, there are no laws protecting citizens against mind games, so if all else fails, you’ll either have to bite the bullet “or look for another job.”

…Tell Him You’re Just Not That Into Him

Like many dating axioms, those fateful words first were uttered on Sex and the City. We asked Susan Mahler, LCSW, a private-practice and sex therapist in Larchmont, what to do when you’re just not that into him.

1: Wield Body Language. That creepy guy from across the bar won’t stop looking at you. Mahler advises avoiding eye contact and possibly move to another spot at the bar, since “some people don’t pick up on subtleties.”

2: Say It Out Loud. If you don’t like the person on the other end of that free drink, be direct and forceful with your words. “You could say, ‘Thank you for the offer, but I am here with my friend for the night,’ or ‘I’m not really interested in meeting anyone right now,’” says Mahler. And if your direct approach doesn’t work, enlist the help of that trusty bartender.

3: Screen Your Calls. Don’t egg on a would-be suitor by repeatedly telling him to not call you. “It’s the engagement that keeps them interested,” says Mahler. “Don’t answer if you have caller ID, and, if not, hang up immediately if you hear his voice.”

4: Go Public. Nowadays, everyone knows when you are single, in an open relationship, or in a mutually exclusive relationship. (Thanks, Facebook.) On the bright side, you can turn to the Internet for that extra reinforcement in announcing your intentions. Newly single after a break-up? “Remove the ‘in a relationship’ part of your Facebook right away because that sends another message to the person that it is really over,” says Mahler. “This can be seen as the final step.”

…Say No

We asked Richard DioGuardi, a professor at Iona College and a White Plains-based psychologist whose practice offers training in assertiveness skills, to clue us in on how to say “no”—and convey “no”—once and for all.

1: Take a Stand—Literally. “Lift your head up, keep your shoulders back, make direct eye contact, speak calmly,” DioGuardi says. If your body language—slouchy posture, shifty eyes, fidgeting—says “maybe,” people are “more likely to believe your body language and press harder to get their needs met.”

2: Don’t Apologize. “It suggests that you owe a debt to the person,” DioGuardi says, and this weakens your position.

3: Be Sure. “If you’re indecisive, don’t answer right away. It’s okay to ask for some time to think about it,” says DioGuardi. Communicating uncertainty “invites others to push for a ‘yes.’”

4: Don’t Make Excuses. “It’s not that you can’t do what’s asked; it’s that you choose not to,” says DioGuardi, who cautions that, by offering excuses, you’re giving the favor-seeker an invitation to remove the obstacles that are “keeping” you from saying “yes.”