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How to respond to no-win challenges, by Karen Little

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After writing last week's Happiness Blog, I reflected on TikTok's "Restaurant Stories" and "Hair Salon Stories" where service providers reenact the agony of being caught in no-win challenges by customers who do not want to follow rules or who want free items through subterfuge.

The challengers in these TikTok stories threaten providers through narcissistic, sociopathic, and even psychopathic behaviors. These challengers want only one thing, which is their way, no exception.

Even though no-win challenges are common in every walk of life, service workers can block them through denial of service. Individuals must also block challengers, but without anything to sell or trade, they must use additional techniques to untangle themselves from no-win situations.

When present, the following three observations are enough to show you that you are being threatened and are entering into a no-win situation.

  • The challenger indicates that he or she does not understand what you say, no matter how clearly or often you say it.

  • The challenger refers to you as being substandard through name-calling, belittling, and body posture, such as eye-rolling.

  • And the challenger threatens to cripple your reputation (even livelihood), and can escalate the issue into physical violence.

Service workers respond to these no-win challenges by refusing further business with the challenger. Individuals, unfortunately, who face similar no-win challenges from family, friends, and employers, must also reduce or eliminate further interaction with the challenger, but do so more subtly.

The following four suggestions will help you deal with no-win situations and hopefully stave off violence.

  • Limit your need to clarify and re-explain the situation to no more than three times. Logic plays no part in eliminating intimidation and there is nothing you can do to change this. The more you re-explain to clarify, the more temper raises.

  • Politely reduce communications with the challenger. Do not challenge the challenger or allow yourself to get sucked into a fight based on your hope that you can clarify the situation. You can't. Challengers use numerous dirty tricks to catch you off-guard. The simplest way to respond is "hardly at all."

  • Physically remove yourself from the challenger's presence as soon as possible, using any excuse you can think of.

  • And, depending on the severity of the challenge, be willing to walk out of the challenger's life, or, if that is too difficult to accomplish on the spur of the moment, develop solid plans you can follow, so you can leave in the future. Be pro-active and save yourself. Don't let the situation fester in your mind.

Minor conflicts of this type often resolve themselves when communications are reduced because the passage of time re-directs the challenger's attention. For major altercations, like enacted by the service workers on TikTok, ending the relationship might be the only and best solution.

Challenges of this type are pathological and one-sided. They are not based on a desire to come to mutual understanding, and no list of "50 ways to win an argument and communicate like a champ" will change this. By being quick to acknowledge what is transpiring and extricating yourself as soon as possible, your life will be better (and happier) all around!


  • TikTok's Restaurant Stories and Salon Story dramatize the types of personally experienced challenges mentioned in this blog. There are a lot of stories on this subject, but I do not know how to preform a general "look up" to find them. If interested in this subject, "like" posts in Restaurant Stories and Salon Story and soon others will be fed to you.

  • You will find the most useful tips on how to respond to challenges by Googling the general category of Dealing with Narcissists, as well as narrowing that category to Parents, Mother, Father, Sibling, Family, Co-workers, and Boss

  • Learn about the value of Psychodrama. While the TikTop story tellers provide entertaining material, they share this through psychodramas. If you are frustrated by getting stuck in no-win challenges, consider staging psychodramas yourself, where you play all the roles.

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Written by Karen Little of Sketch-Views

I hope you find my Blogs helpful! If so, help me by "liking" my illustrations in my two Redbubble stores and even consider buying from them! Littleviews features Dog and Pet illustrations, and Sketchviews more General Illustrations.


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