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How do I get people to stop talking to me about things I find distasteful?


shelby6811

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I should start by saying that I'm an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), which means that I absorb other people's energy and am constantly dealing with external stimuli. I'm pretty good at setting boundaries for my comfort level and can advocate for myself if I experience something that is too much for me, but for some reason, people with incredibly dysfunctional situations seem to seek me out. Now, I'll listen to anyone if they want to talk, but unfortunately, while I'm listening, I'm also absorbing their negative energy. There's no way to stop it from happening. If they start talking about something really bad for me, or something I simply can't listen to, I will shut it down quickly. But it seems like these people are attracted to my energy or vibe, and it's really starting to bother me. For example, I just started a new job and in less than a month, two different people have felt the need to share their incredibly dysfunctional personal situations. Telling me things I really find distasteful, and I don't want that kind of stuff in my head. Also, my intuition is very strong and I can tell if someone is a bad person, or simply a negative person, who won't help themselves. I have no time for these people. I do not want to hear about your repeated bad decisions, and the same consequences over and over. I know that people like this are actually feeding their own dysfunction, that they NEED to talk about it, in order to get the serotonin high that goes along with talking about it. But why to me? Because I'm an empath and they sense that? Because I'm kind, and I don't want to hurt someone's feelings, even though most of the time I want to tell them "You're doing this to yourself. Where's your brain?"

Is there a polite way to say stop coming to me with your crap?

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You can't really control what other people do.  Apparently there is a social aspect to your work, and people talk amongst themselves.   You don't seem interested in other people.  It's not just that you're sensitive or an empath etc.  Since that is the case, go ahead and tell them that you don't want to hear about their lives, or say "excuse me" and go away.   

This is a new job, you've been there less than a month.  If you're consistent in shunning people it will definitely take hold and they will stop coming to you.   

I would like to suggest, though, that you may not "know" all you think you do about whether they are "bad" or "good" or their motivations just because of your personal qualities.  There is still a lot to be said for actually learning about other people and not just following your impressions, if you have any interest in that.

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I mean, that makes me sound like a misanthrope! It's not that, I simply don't want to hear about other people's dysfunction, particularly when they're doing nothing to help themselves or change the situation.

And it's not just at work, people seem to see something in me that makes them share all sorts of what I would consider TMI in other situations, too.

I have to disagree with you in that I do "know" about other people and what kind of people they are. Obviously I don't know all about them, but sometimes it's nothing more than just a sense of what kind of person they are. There's a saying about HSP's "My intuition is so strong I not only know who I am, I know who you are, too."

And I've never been wrong about someone. Never. It's not egotism, it's a fact. Friends and family will come get me and introduce me to someone new, because they want to know what kind of vibe I've got from the new person. Even sometimes when it takes a while for a person to show their true colors, I knew it already. It's part of the gift that comes along with being an HSP. I think of it as the silver lining, since being an HSP can be really hard sometimes.

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It's not that you're omniscient. It is usually true that you may be more observant than most people, but you must understand that most people just don't wear all the same signs and markers. Most people are very complex and multifaceted. And, people are exactly that. People.

They don't all readily fit into a narrow box or template of behavior. Quite the opposite. And, because people are so diverse and complex, it's almost impossible to know even yourself completely. Therefore, it's almost assuredly impossible to know with certainty all there is to know about any one person. Especially not off of just intuition or guess.

Being HSP means you're neurodivergent. In a round about or relatively vague way. But limited. You are burdened with over observance and even more triggered for it. 

I just don't want you to get grandiose or egotistical from your intuition because it really can be misleading some times. In fact, intuition tends to work better when you're generally ignorant and uninformed and haven't really been given the wide variety of experiences a possible. In those cases, your intuition is more likely to simply guess right and at least feel right some of the time. The more you understand people and the more experience you have with different kinds of people, the more you realize that your intuition can be wrong just as often as it is right. And that's ok. It's just important to recognize that and not let it inflate your ego or make you feel like you're better than others.

As for dealing with people who constantly come to you with their problems, the best way to handle it is to set boundaries and stick to them. You can politely tell them that you prefer not to discuss those kinds of topics or that you don't have the emotional capacity to handle it at the moment. It's also ok to distance yourself from people who constantly drain you with their negativity or problems. 

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"I just don't want you to get grandiose or egotistical from your intuition because it really can be misleading some times. In fact, intuition tends to work better when you're generally ignorant and uninformed and haven't really been given the wide variety of experiences a possible. In those cases, your intuition is more likely to simply guess right and at least feel right some of the time. The more you understand people and the more experience you have with different kinds of people, the more you realize that your intuition can be wrong just as often as it is right. And that's ok. It's just important to recognize that and not let it inflate your ego or make you feel like you're better than others."

I don't think I'm omniscient or grandiose, or egotistical, or that I'm better than others. I really don't. I certainly don't think I know all there is to know about others, even people I know really well. But after 52 years of dealing with this gift? or curse?, I've realized that I HAVE to pay attention to what my intuition is telling me. If I don't, I end up with back stabbing, or betrayal, or just hitting myself in the head, saying "You knew! Why didn't you pay attention? When will you learn?"

So now I do pay attention. I'm on high alert. If I get the bad vibe I disconnect, immediately. What I'm having trouble dealing with is WHY all these people seek me out to tell me these annoying, ridiculous, overpersonal things about their lives. Does resting b*tch face not work anymore? 😉 

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20 minutes ago, shelby6811 said:

What I'm having trouble dealing with is WHY all these people seek me out to tell me these annoying, ridiculous, overpersonal things about their lives. Does resting b*tch face not work anymore?

Curious -- have you ever encountered a single person that doesn't tell you all about their personal problems?

Resting *** face only works 50% of the time, the other 50% of the time it just looks like constipation.😂

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4 minutes ago, yogacat said:

Resting *** face only works 50% of the time, the other 50% of the time it just looks like constipation.

I'm remembering that one.

 

OP I think what you need to do is just find a way to just stick with business while at work. Tell them you have a deadline or something along those lines when you have hit your limit. Kindly shut them down, no need to just be abrupt.

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Funneeee! 😉

I have lots of people who don't tell me anything ultra personal. Perfectly nice conversations about what they did last weekend and how excited they are for their kid's graduation.

Then there are the people who just met me and feel the need to tell me about how they are in a polyamorous situation with a husband and boyfriend and both men are abusive, and one of them tracks her phone and she has to ask permission to go to lunch with her coworkers. (All of this said to me when the Office Manager announced they would be taking me to lunch for my first week). Really, I didn't need to know all that about her, nor do I want that kind of crap in my head, and it's hard for me not to say "What the h*ll is wrong with you?"

On another topic, I seem to know A LOT of women in really effed up relationship situations. I mentioned it to my boyfriend, how do these women not see what creeps these guys are. I mean, if I was dating someone who wanted to track my phone, I'd be out of there so fast I'd leave smoke. My boyfriend said "Guys like that know that, honey. They would avoid a woman like you because it's so obvious you wouldn't comply."

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Good afternoon OP! 
 

Oh my Lord, another term now, another label… what is this HSP? I’m sorry, I’m at odds with modern culture and it’s seeming praise and need to label, diagnose and distinguish everything. 
 

You would have been seen as sensitive or touchy in the past. This is not a bad thing. 
 

Use your intuition to navigate these social situations. If you are good at reading people, instant judgements and character calculations, you won’t even need them to open their mouths before you get a big hint. 
 

No one can get along with everyone. You could go one of two ways - avoid, or minimise these conversations. Make them turn to more of the atmosphere you prefer. For example, if someone starts negativity or repeating distressing things to you, skilfully switch the topic of conversation and take charge of the exchange! Steer it in the direction you want! 
 

Or, you could “toughen” yourself up and accept people have problems, sometimes trivial, sometimes huge and extremely dark, and accept human reality and try and let it wash over you or take your own steps at balancing yourself after these interactions! 
 

x

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6 minutes ago, shelby6811 said:

feel the need to tell me about how they are in a polyamorous situation

Ah ha! Okay I lump these types in with the "I'm a vegan." It's like they want to make people uncomfortable, or humble brag about this sort of thing. So keep in mind they want to share, you just happen to be a listener.

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10 minutes ago, shelby6811 said:

I have lots of people who don't tell me anything ultra personal. Perfectly nice conversations about what they did last weekend and how excited they are for their kid's graduation.

Then there are the people who just met me and feel the need to tell me about how they are in a polyamorous situation with a husband and boyfriend and both men are abusive, and one of them tracks her phone and she has to ask permission to go to lunch with her coworkers. (All of this said to me when the Office Manager announced they would be taking me to lunch for my first week). Really, I didn't need to know all that about her, nor do I want that kind of crap in my head, and it's hard for me not to say "What the h*ll is wrong with you?"

On another topic, I seem to know A LOT of women in really effed up relationship situations. I mentioned it to my boyfriend, how do these women not see what creeps these guys are. I mean, if I was dating someone who wanted to track my phone, I'd be out of there so fast I'd leave smoke. My boyfriend said "Guys like that know that, honey. They would avoid a woman like you because it's so obvious you wouldn't comply."

Awe, well, maybe you're such a good listener that people feel they can tell you anything!

It's interesting though, some people have hidden depths you would never suspect. I have a colleague who looks very 'standard' for want of a better description - quite mumsy, more into gardening than the city, etc. It turns out she's had a very adventurous life! 

Your boyfriend is right. People with boundary issues sniff out those with weak boundaries - or very strong ones. lol

There are a lot of interesting people if you bother to pay attention, I think that's part of it. 

But at the same time, it can be overwhelming and even uncomfortable when people overshare personal or sensitive information. So, it's important to maintain boundaries and not feel obligated to listen to every detail if it's making you uncomfortable. It's okay to politely redirect the conversation or even end it if necessary.

As for your observation about knowing a lot of women in unhealthy relationships, unfortunately, that is all too common. Sometimes people become so used to dysfunction that they don't even realize how unhealthy it is. And others may stay in these relationships due to fear, low self-worth, or other underlying issues.

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4 minutes ago, yogacat said:

Awe, well, maybe you're such a good listener that people feel they can tell you anything!

It's interesting though, some people have hidden depths you would never suspect. I have a colleague who looks very 'standard' for want of a better description - quite mumsy, more into gardening than the city, etc. It turns out she's had a very adventurous life! 

Your boyfriend is right. People with boundary issues sniff out those with weak boundaries - or very strong ones. lol

There are a lot of interesting people if you bother to pay attention, I think that's part of it. 

But at the same time, it can be overwhelming and even uncomfortable when people overshare personal or sensitive information. So, it's important to maintain boundaries and not feel obligated to listen to every detail if it's making you uncomfortable. It's okay to politely redirect the conversation or even end it if necessary.

As for your observation about knowing a lot of women in unhealthy relationships, unfortunately, that is all too common. Sometimes people become so used to dysfunction that they don't even realize how unhealthy it is. And others may stay in these relationships due to fear, low self-worth, or other underlying issues.

Yep, I'm a good listener. But I'm also absorbing all the things I hear. And yes, it's pretty uncomfortable sometimes. Coily is right, people who share that kind of stuff are doing it for a reason.

It's so hard for me to understand how women can stay in stuff like that. I'm not talking about when kids are involved or fear, or things like that. Obviously, those are awful situations. But a grown a$$ woman, with her own job, and a brain in her head, and nothing tangible keeping her there. I would LAUGH at a man who wanted to track my phone, or try to get me to ask permission to do anything. Sometimes my boyfriend will get irritated at the way I load the dishwasher, and I'm like "Do it your da*n self then!" He says it's one of the things he likes about me!

I wonder what these women are thinking. Do they think they deserve that? How do they tell themselves a man treating them like that is ok? Where was the line? And that's why I don't want to hear women like them tell me these things. You want me to listen to that, and tell you it's ok. Because what I'm going to tell you is to leave. Now. Go home, pack your stuff, and leave. You can do better.

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Think of boundaries as something you do for yourself that you can't really impose on others. Just as you have a house and car alarms and locks to keep undesirables out. Same way you would go through your social media and phone and reset privacy settings. This is the best way to avoid absorbing their negativity. 

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32 minutes ago, shelby6811 said:

mylolita, this is great advice! Thank you!

And thank you for saying that being sensitive or touchy isn't bad. It can be so hard to deal with sometimes. I don't like labels, either, but I have to say that when my friend suggested I research HSP, it made a huge difference for me. 

Same with being shy OP I do not see it as something that needs correcting!

 

You will know already and also as you go on develop new ways to navigate this! 
 

x

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14 minutes ago, shelby6811 said:

Yep, I'm a good listener. But I'm also absorbing all the things I hear. And yes, it's pretty uncomfortable sometimes. Coily is right, people who share that kind of stuff are doing it for a reason.

It's so hard for me to understand how women can stay in stuff like that. I'm not talking about when kids are involved or fear, or things like that. Obviously, those are awful situations. But a grown a$$ woman, with her own job, and a brain in her head, and nothing tangible keeping her there. I would LAUGH at a man who wanted to track my phone, or try to get me to ask permission to do anything. Sometimes my boyfriend will get irritated at the way I load the dishwasher, and I'm like "Do it your da*n self then!" He says it's one of the things he likes about me!

I wonder what these women are thinking. Do they think they deserve that? How do they tell themselves a man treating them like that is ok? Where was the line? And that's why I don't want to hear women like them tell me these things. You want me to listen to that, and tell you it's ok. Because what I'm going to tell you is to leave. Now. Go home, pack your stuff, and leave. You can do better.

That's good, and maybe that's why they share with you, because you're a voice of reason for them. And I agree it's hard to understand why women stay in abusive or controlling relationships.

There are a lot of factors at play, such as low self-esteem, fear, financial dependence, and sometimes, the abuser manipulates or emotionally blackmails them into staying. It's a complex issue and I don't think there's one simple answer.

Not defending they're choices.

I mean, look at Nicole Simpson, she tried to leave and was murdered.

It's not always in the control of the woman herself.

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1 hour ago, shelby6811 said:

I simply don't want to hear about other people's dysfunction, particularly when they're doing nothing to help themselves or change the situation.

Well - you are not required to hear about their dysfunction, but it's up to you to put the blockades in place.   

Also I would caution you against being so sure you know everything about a person's life situation because you have a "diagnosis" or label and you are intuitive / empathetic.   These are workplace interactions with people you've known less than one month.

1 hour ago, shelby6811 said:

"My intuition is so strong I not only know who I am, I know who you are, too."

And I've never been wrong about someone. Never. 

I think you are a younger person and I guarantee you that you HAVE been wrong about someone, you just did not find out about that; for example, you're 100% certain about these people at work with whom you've had very minimal interaction, and you will probably have little to no more since you want them to stop talking to you.  So you will not ever possibly find out if you were  wrong or not.   As your life goes on, however, you will find out about being wrong when you were sure you were right.

In general, perhaps you've never been wrong about your feelings regarding them:  you don't like them or you do like them.  

A huge pitfall for very intuitive people is that they (we, as I am also very intuitive) can and do easily fall into succumbing to our own biases and also to projection.   We don't tend to set a high bar for self-examination because we can be so sure we "know" stuff.

Regardless - you do have a lot of power over getting people to steer clear of you at work.   Just keep on ignoring them, having good excuses (you're busy at work)  or freezing them out.  They'll stop. 

 

 

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Well, I'm usually at my desk, and they'll come around to chat. Chat is fine. I'm more than happy to hear about your weekend and the new restaurant you went to. What I don't want to hear is 30 minutes of how your boyfriend and husband were abusive to you all weekend. It makes me crazy. And it's hard for me not to say "You obviously enjoy this or you'd leave.". Or I'm in the breakroom and I get cornered. It's easier to get away there, so I do, quickly. But when I'm trapped at my desk, and that's it exactly, I feel trapped, I have to make up an email or something to get away.

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21 minutes ago, Jaunty said:

A huge pitfall for very intuitive people is that they (we, as I am also very intuitive) can and do easily fall into succumbing to our own biases and also to projection.   We don't tend to set a high bar for self-examination because we can be so sure we "know" stuff.

This is great insight, and what I was trying to point out earlier (you said it much better than I....). But that is a core issue with intuition, and not that simply everyone can develop it to the point of equal reality. But it's really about following patterns... 

Even Einstein said, “I believe in intuitions and inspirations...I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am.” ― Albert Einstein

I think instead of thinking about intuition as a "superpower" to justify ourselves, there are some other spiritual systems or thought systems that might help you weather the forces. 

But back to the original question. 

Intuition is not just about having good energy and being a nice person. It's also about feeling what is going on and being able to disseminate it from what is true, what is projection, and also what is assumptions. And where we don't process these things, we not only fail in in our self-vetting processes, but we compound the problems of what is already in motion to cause chaos and pressures within the human system and society.

Wow, not easy. But here we are, just some curious sweethearts on computers trying to work this stuff out together.

You're within your right not to spend your precious time on these people and listening to the substandard quality of life in these folks dramas. And they shouldn't be so stressed as they are not limited to telling just you about it... If you plausibly tell them where your boundries are, they could also go to someone else. 

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12 minutes ago, shelby6811 said:

Well, I'm usually at my desk, and they'll come around to chat. Chat is fine. I'm more than happy to hear about your weekend and the new restaurant you went to. What I don't want to hear is 30 minutes of how your boyfriend and husband were abusive to you all weekend. It makes me crazy. And it's hard for me not to say "You obviously enjoy this or you'd leave.". Or I'm in the breakroom and I get cornered. It's easier to get away there, so I do, quickly. But when I'm trapped at my desk, and that's it exactly, I feel trapped, I have to make up an email or something to get away.

You're not trapped.  Speak politely for a few minutes then say "lovely chatting with you -I should respond to this email -see  you later!" Then look away.

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20 minutes ago, shelby6811 said:

. What I don't want to hear is 30 minutes of how your boyfriend and husband were abusive to you all weekend. It makes me crazy. And it's hard for me not to say "You obviously enjoy this or you'd leave.". 

You could sidestep these comments with rhetorical questions such as "perhaps therapy would be a good idea'.  It sort of sends the message in a diplomatic way that you're not there to listen to their rants. 

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5 hours ago, shelby6811 said:

But why to me? Because I'm an empath and they sense that?

What kind of an empathic person are you when you cant even listen to people telling you their stuff? More like "unempathic person" lol

You do seem very "self absorbed". Which tells me more about you than about them. I do understand there are people who want to tell everyone about their problems. But if you as "empathic" as you claim, you would know they do it probably because they want to make it easier by telling somebody about it. Yours is to listen and to offer advice. But you, in your "self absorption" made it all about yourself. And how you are finding it hard to listen to somebody else problems. Tell me how is that "emphatic"? 

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Learn how to excuse yourself from a conversation. I don't have time to chat right now....

I was just about to get on a call.

I am heading out for a walk.  

I need to run an errand 

I am on a deadline 

Don't sit and listen, if you don't want to. 

Learn to distance yourself from other people's bs.

 

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