04/09/2012 02:45 pm ET Updated Jun 09, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Overbearing

Last week I was at my health club sitting by the pool reading the paper, when my iPhone (set on vibrate) alerted me to a call. I took it quietly and informed my caller I was in a no call area. A woman on the other side of the room began screaming at me that I was being disruptive. I responded calmly: "Sorry, someone notifying me about a dead relative."

That seemed to mollify her enough to stop yelling, although she kept staring at me angrily for the next hour, challenging me to respond further. I ignored her and look forward to never seeing her again.

My dog Blue is 13 years old. She's had major surgery on each hindquarter, so she has a difficult time carrying her 68 pounds around. Blue's morning walks, once one-hour romps, are now reduced to a series of short stops in front of our apartment building.

Recently, I took Blue for a 15-minute morning walk where she fully evacuated, and as we came back inside my building lobby, a woman I'd never seen before snarled at me, "That's it!? You don't know anything about dogs!" Rather than engaging her and explaining Blue's age and medical history, I ignored her and went upstairs without uttering a word.

I have always attracted bullies and overbearing people, maybe because I've never been afraid to do battle with them. I ride buses in New York City on a daily basis, and it seems to be a setting that attracts overbearing people, perhaps because everyone is trapped with them. I've stood up to many such people under these circumstances and have received numerous "thank you's," and once spontaneous applause erupted from most of the people on the bus.

However, I recently discovered an article by Gini Grey, called "Dealing with Difficult Controlling People." I love Grey's simple take on difficult people: "Like unhealthy foods, they need to be taken lightly and minimally." Grey also points out that overbearing people thrive on conflict and enjoy the control they derive from creating tense and combative situations, so simply ignoring them is the best defense.

Three years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and since then I've lost more than 50 pounds by following a sensible diet and engaging in daily exercise. Now that I've been following Grey's advice, my blood pressure and stress levels have gone down significantly.

Rides on the M101 Limited will never be the same.

For more by Rob Taub, click here.

For more on emotional intelligence, click here.

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