Practical Communication

Get Rid of Dead Weight Once and For All

A recent “Dealing with Difficult People” breakfast workshop reminded me that sometimes, when all else fails, it’s best to just get rid of the “non-value added” people in your life, rather than trying to deal with it. This is a post from 2011 on getting rid of the dead weight in your life. Enjoy!


Relationships with people are similar to relationships with cars.

Now before I start getting angry comments telling me that people aren’t cars, they have feelings, more value, etc., let me emphatically state that I don’t believe inanimate objects are as important as people. Just go with me on this analogy for a minute.

You have a reciprocal relationship with your cars. If you care for it properly and give it what it needs-, gas, maintenance, tires, cleaning, etc., it will “reciprocate” by being reliable, efficient, and safe transportation, and you’ll likely keep it for many years.

On the other hand, if despite your efforts, your car “drained the life out of you”—it guzzled gas, didn’t start most of the time, and broke down frequently—you’d get rid of it, wouldn’t you? The cost of having the car would far outweigh the benefit—no reciprocity there.


Human relationships also require reciprocity to work. When each person meets the needs of the other, the relationship works. When there is no reciprocity and one person is being “bled dry” by the other, the relationship isn’t working, at least for the desiccated corpse.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be “giving” people or shouldn’t make sacrifices for others. Being a good friend, coworker, employee, child, or neighbor, often requires putting others above ourselves.

Does your mom or dad, despite your requests, belittle you, your spouse, or children? Maybe it’s time to stop visiting, taking his or her calls, or allowing him or her to come to your home—if only temporarily?

Do you have a boss who repeatedly uses sarcasm and humiliation to let you know that “he owns you?” Maybe it’s time to get a new job, or three jobs if you need to.

Do you have a “friend” who has never been there for you, but always expects you to be there for her? Maybe it’s time you say, “Our relationship isn’t working for me” and stop calling her, responding to her calls, etc.


Before you say, “that’s easy to say, bet you’ve never done it,” I’ve done each of the things above at different points in my life and never regretted any of them.

Again, as a person who believes communication can solve most problems, I believe we should communicate with the person and exhaust all options before ending a relationship. However, when you’ve done that to no avail …

Cut ’em loose.

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