How to Handle Stubborn Adults

Have you ever encountered a stubborn adult? Yes, that's what I thought. Here's three kinds of stubborn adults and how to handle them.

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #401

As a parent, handling stubbornness pretty much comes with the territory. And as a father of an eight-year-old and four-year-old, I’m earning my parenting stripes on a daily basis. Yet, when my kids act stubborn, it’s easy to shrug it off, since they’re kids. But when I see an adult act stubbornly—with no reason other than pure selfishness—I have absolutely zero tolerance for it. In fact, allowing stubbornness is the only way that stubbornness grows.  

Stubbornness is not an excuse and, for the life of me, I can’t stand when stubborn adults take pride in getting their way as if they’ve achieved something. So, let’s make a pact to stand up to stubbornness once and for all.

Tip #1: The Stubborn Coworker

Stubbornness is defined as “refusing to change one's mind or course of action despite pressure to do so; unyielding or resolute.” Ugh, even having to read and write the definition makes me want to vomit. Gosh, I can’t handle stubbornness! OK, OK, enough venting, it’s back to business. And speaking of business, stubbornness in the workforce has two conflicting sides. First, let’s focus on my least favorite part of the argument for the “Pro Stubborn Debate.” It goes something like, “If I really want something, I have to go for it and not let anyone stop me.” Drop the mic, and walk off stage, right? Seriously? Now, as a person who is driven in everything I do, I totally understand and can relate to that statement. But looking at being “stubborn” as a point of pride—as if not being stubborn is a sign of giving up and giving in—is not a free pass to be rude. Usually what ends up happening is said stubborn person is perceived not as “driven” but rather as a colossal jerk. Using the argument for being a stubborn adult due to your “passion” is like saying your “love” for beer means it’s OK if you’re drunk all day.

Stubbornness—like any other crutch—is a negative attribute of a person's character, which affects others. And that is where I have a problem with the whole “stubborn-means-driven professional” excuse. If you’re stubborn all the time at work, you will alienate every single person around you, without fail. For starters, you’ll look like someone who can’t collaborate with their peers. I mean, you’re always correct so how can anyone work with you, right? Also, it shows you’re a lousy communicator in general. After all, being stubborn means you don’t even listen to what others have to say. You may hear them, but won’t listen and that means you can’t connect. And if those reasons aren’t enough, being stubborn shows you’re inflexible to change, or ideas other than your own. So, rather than stick with being stubborn, use your motivation to succeed on the inside; pushing yourself harder and harder, telling yourself you’ll be on top. However, don’t let your stubborn beliefs cloud your judgment of disconnecting with your peers … and ultimately tanking your career (hmm, I believe there’s a book about that).

Tip #2: The Stubborn Partner

Of all the stubborn characters out there, hands down the most difficult of all is the stubborn partner. Whether you’re married or just dating, when you are involved with a stubborn partner it will make working with a stubborn coworker seem like a piece of cake. In fact, it would make dealing with an entire corporation of stubborn colleagues seem like a piece of cake.  Care to argue this one? Not likely, since 99.9% of the entire dating world has at least once dealt with a stubborn partner who made the relationship more toxic than that the feces-infested waterways of the Rio Olympics (check out HBO’s Real Sports to learn more. It’s disgusting!). So why on earth would anyone in their right mind insist on remaining stubborn when most likely they had nothing but misery from being on the receiving end? With that, if we can only take one thing from a failed relationship, it’s how the rude actions of an unmannerly dater will teach you wonders about what you don’t want in a partner. For many, it’s stubbornness.