difficult people

This could go in IMHO or here. I figured it possibly should go here, because it may be a sensitive topic, which could rile some people up. I was talking to a long time friend who is a very charitable person and the following topic came up in conversation.

(Note: This was not anything personal, it was merely a topic of discussion and nothing more.)

Why are difficult people who refuse to accept charity, help, or general acts of kindness regarded as “jerks” or “a-holes?” To clarify, I mean the preceding as in the context of a person who has not expressly asked for help.

I understand completely why and how, one could be labeled a jerk if he, or she, asked for help or charity and then refused it. That is hypocritical, confusing, and just plain rude.

However, ponder hypothetical situations such as:
[li]You see a person in a wheelchair struggling to get into the door of a shop. You attempt hold it open for him, and he chews you out that he can do it himself and insists for you to go away.[/li][li]A person who was downsized or laid off is struggling to get by. A group of her friends decide to all pitch in and buy her and her kids a bunch of groceries, to which she refuses to accept, then insists the friends either keep it themselves or return it. She would rather live by food stamps than accept her friends’ charity.[/li][/ul]

I am not trying to stereotype, I am simply illustrating scenarios. These are the nature of situations with difficult people, I am inquiring about. I figure it should be one’s right as an individual to accept or decline whatever they wish. While it may be alarming, and even upsetting, if you are the one giving, as the saying goes: “You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.” People often seem more determined to help an individual, who doesn’t want to be helped.

Note: I imply that such type situations are non-life threatening. If someone is drowning, or in a burning buliding, ETC, of course they should be helped, whether they want it or not.

So what in YHO makes such unco-operative persons, “jerks?”

I don’t think it’s right if the help-er gets mad because the help-ee, refuses help. A help-er may risk becoming jerkish, themself, if they blow their top. Maybe that’s why difficult people are so ill-favored, because “jerk-itis” can be contagious??

Ummm, mods? Please decide whether this belongs here, or IMHO. Thanks.

If I follow your post correctly, you’re asking why “difficult people” who refuse unsolicited help are considered “jerks”. Yes? I’ll base my answer on that premise.

I’d say that isn’t the case, universally. However, I suspect that by your use of the term “difficult”, you’ve got an idea about the answer to your own question. There is a world of difference between declining unsolicited help & declining it nastily. For example:

I use a manual wheelchair. When heading up a ramp at school, I’m often asked if I need help. If I feel I don’t need it, I’ll say something to the effect of, “Actually, I’m doing okay, thanks though”. I won’t say, “What, you think I’m incapable of getting myself around? I don’t need anyone’s help!”. If i did, I wouldn’t blame the other person for thinking me an asshole.

If one responds to an offer of help politely, one is simply declining the offer. If one declines in the latter way, one is being an asshole. Being nasty to someone who’s merely trying to help you (even misguidedly) is an assholish thing to do - that’s why people who operate that way are considered by most to be assholes.

As for potential “helpers” who don’t get the hint…I don’t think they’re assholes, really. They’re misguided, & perhaps a bit condescending. I’d certainly be irritated if someone insisted on “helping” me despite my protestations, but I hope I’d retain my civility.

I suspect that the “difficult” types to whom you refer are insecure about their abilities & therefore see offers of help as indicative that the “helper” thinks they’re incapable of taking care of themselves.

Wow. Five "asshole"s or variations thereof in that one post. Do I win anything? :smiley:

100% Correct

A year supply of Preparation H? :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously though, you had great reply. I hope to hear more which are likewise.

Politely declining someone’s kind offer is/should be enough.
Persistantly offering “kindness” is the mark of a jerk IMHO.

In the case of the women who was bought groceries - I would think an angry reaction would be a combination of shame and pride. It’s a misdirected anger. Refusing the help may be the only way she can feel like she’s still in control of the situation, still managing and coping. To accept help might feel like defeat. While this is misguided, I think the friend should accept the refusal - to keep trying to help could feel, from the point of the helpee, that she’s saying “You need my help. You cannot cope.” which sounds an awful lot like “You are useless.” The helpee, wanting to feel that she can and will cope on her own, may feel that an offer of help is a slight on her rather than helpful.

An angry or illogical reaction just happens - our emotions get in the way of common sense. It’s not an excuse, but it’s a kind of explanation.

My 3-year-old daughter likes to do things “all by herself.”

This is common among many people, for some reason. They need autonomy and derive tremendous satisfaction from doing things on their own, even if the end result isn’t as good as if they had accepted help.

So I let her struggle with her zipper, her seatbelt, or whatever. And she appreciates it.

Of course none of this excuses rude behaviour. But we all get short with people who do something annoying at a bad moment.

People who refuse kindness aren’t necessarily jerks just for saying ‘no’. Two days after my husband and I lost our baby, the people he works with had raised a good sum of money to cover the time he was going to lose at work (he’s currently on a part time contract and wasn’t paid for the week he took off). He initially refused the check they offered. Why? We didn’t want to profit by the death of our child, as the money they raised actually went over and beyond what he would have made in that week, working. Of course, he was very polite in his refusal, and we did eventually accept the money after realizing that this was their way of getting through what had happened and of helping someone they really respected. Not that we had much choice. It was quite true that by refusing, it made them all the more adament. But I don’t see our initial refusal as jerkish.

Long story short…it’s not the refusal that’s jerkish, but the way that refusal is made. Frankly, anyone who becomes offended and angry at my attempts to make their life a little easier won’t be on the recieving end of a second attempt.