1. Prior to being in the presence of a petty relative, know what you are getting yourself into when you talk with them. They usually have a history of angering others, so don't think you are special. The party is over if you should look at them wrong, say something offensive, or make them feel unimportant. The key to winning with them is don't talk about you, ask questions about them. Avoid offering your personal opinion especially if it isn't flattering. Compliment them much.
2. If a dispute breaks out, you could keep talking and talking, but childish people will only use what they know to get back at you. At some point, you will realize you are getting no where, so change your attitude, and move out the presence of the petty person. They will talk to whoever about whatever you said or did, but at least you don't have to continue putting up with their behavior.
3. Remind yourself why you really shouldn't be breaking bread with the individual, accepting his or her invites, entertaining phone calls, and more. Shut this person out of your life especially when you don't rely on him or her for anything. But if you do, gradually redirect your dependence elsewhere and find a support system apart from the immature individual.
More on petty people/relatives...
1. They are easily irritated, often impatient and can be very rude.
2. They are more interested in talking about how people look, what they say, and things related to material wealth then thinking about important subjects that matter.
3. They hate being wrong and will look for ways to make them appear right. If anyone should talk to these petty people about issues they have had with others, they will come across as righteous, ignorant, and/or harmless. "I wouldn't know why she acted like that at the party...we have done so much for her. I couldn't imagine what was going on inside of her head," says the petty relative. Meanwhile, the individual provoked an argument by saying and doing things to irritate others.
If you should encounter someone like this in your family, do everything in your power not to spend too much time with them over the phone, in-person or elsewhere. He or she will only bring you down.
Nicholl McGuire is the author of Say Goodbye to Dad