Don?t let that clinger linger. Learn the best ways to deal with guests that overstay their welcome.
Photo by Victor Rodvang on Unsplash
by: E.B. Johnson
Sometimes, being a gracious host can come back to bite you in the backside. While having a guest for a few days can be lovely at first, there can come a point when enough is enough.
Having a house guest is a major disruptor, but saying so is a difficult thing to manage. We don?t want to hurt the feelings of our friends and visitors, but we also want the solitude of our personal space back. Telling your guest that they?ve been with you too long is awkward, but there are a few cues you can use to indicate you?re ready for a change of scenery when the time has come.
All it takes is a little practice and a little know-how. You can have your space back in no time, but it?s going to take a little elbow grease and a little backbone.
The abstract stuff.
While it might be tempting to jump into the nitty gritty of the solid tactics you can use to oust that overstayer, let?s talk a little about the concepts you need to get ahold of first.
Boundaries, limitations and self-respect.
Before you can go about setting boundaries for your guests, you need to take some time to look inside and reassess your own personal boundaries, limitations and self-respect.
That sounds a bit hot. It is.
When people walk all over us (and do something disrespectful like overstay their welcome) it is because we allow them to.
The people in our lives only treat us as well or as badly as we demand, something which is determined by our self-esteem and personal regard. Respecting ourselves means setting clearly defined boundaries that the people around you know to stick to; disrespecting yourself?well, that?s when you end up with a permanent couch-surfer.
Before you can kick that bum off your couch, you?ve got to kick that bum out of your head. If someone is taking advantage of you, it is because you?ve given some kind of signal to the world that you?ll allow that, because you don?t value yourself.
Practice building up your self-esteem and realize that your space is your space. No one has the right to compromise the sanctity of your personal space and you have more right to it?s privacy than anyone else in the world (after all, you pay the bills.)
Learn to stand up for yourself because you love the person that you are on the inside and you deserve to be treated well.
Retrospectives and intentions.
Remembering first to honor yourself, always consider the full perspective of your situation and the situation of your guest. Your reasons for wanting your space back are valid ? no matter what ? but consider the situation of your guest fully and make sure that, in asking them to leave, your intention is still a good one.
Consider a time when you needed help and consider the needs of your friend. If you can offer them a different form of help, while facilitating them to leave your space, do so and make sure they know that your intention is a good one.
When we set our intentions and consider our current experience against experiences of our past, we can often come to find compassionate solutions that work across multiple planes. Remember yourself and remember your intentions at all times.
Learning how and when to speak.
Your intent might be set and your boundaries might be firmed, but the next steps will come to nothing if you don?t know how and when to use your voice.
Speaking up for our needs can be hard, but it is one of the most rewarding life-skills we will ever learn. It is a skill, though, and that means that it takes time, effort and commitment to master.
We often find it easy to speak up for the needs of others, but find it hard to speak up for our own needs. When we do speak up, it is often far too late, when the moment is lost in an explosion of emotion that is either related or unrelated.
This comes down to many factors, including the way we were raised, or the experiences we have over time, but it always results in the same thing: losing our voice and our ability to speak up for ourselves.
When you suppress your true feelings, they don?t just go away. They get buried, and buried, and buried until there?s no more room and then ? BOOM! You explode one day. Your feelings only transform, they never disappear, so it?s critical that you learn how and when to speak up for yourself.
Once you?ve realized how much you?re worth, you?ll be able to communicate that worth with others. Choose your moment wisely and strike when you have control of the moment.
The concrete stuff.
After you?ve managed to get a grasp on all the internals and you?ve found the right moment to act, there are a number of ways you can go about ousting a pesky houseguest that just won?t leave.
1. Tell them directly that it?s time to go.
There are plenty of subtle ways you can tell someone it?s time to go, but there?s nothing better than the good ol? up-front method.
Tell your guest directly (but politely) that it?s time for them to saunter on. You may not want to do it, but your friend will appreciate the directness in the long run and both of you will know exactly where things stand.
You can start by apologizing and telling your friend that you hate to be rude, but make it clear that you can no longer continue on in the current situation. Make sure your guest knows that the decision is not just for yourself, but for them as well, and make sure they know your intention and motivations.
Don?t tolerate excuses and don?t linger in the conversation. Make your point and make sure your guest knows that it?s a firm one. Set a time limit on the conversation and stick to that time limit, ensuring that your guest understands that you still like spending time with them, you just need space of your own.
2. Set a schedule.
A bit more subtle, this tactic is a good way to get rid of someone that?s come to stay with you for a vacation or holiday period.
Using a schedule as a series of sign posts for your guest is a great way to wind things down and let them know that their time with you is coming to an end.
Sketch out an itinerary of the things you are going to do together and make sure to schedule ?one last hurrah? that saves the best for last and makes it clear that the vacation is over.
3. The power of body language.
Never underestimate the power of body language when it comes to doing the conveying the things your words just can?t seem to. While this is definitely a more passive aggressive tactic, using your body language to indicate to your friend that their presence has gotten irritating is one way to let them know their time is up in your space.
You can gently use this kind of body language to indicate your feelings and open up a dialogue about where you?re at and how you?re feeling about your guest?s actions. The best way to do this is by simply being appropriately unavailable, or going back to things like work and household chores as if your guest weren?t there.
Remember though, this is only a means to opening up a dialogue. You still need to be ready to talk honestly and openly with your friend about how you?re feeling when the time comes.
4. Get help from another friend.
Sometimes, it?s appropriate to enlist the help of friend when it comes to ousting an pesky houseguest.
While an accomplice might seem a little over-the-top, having a second person there for moral support can come in handy. They can also help you keep and conversation moving and take some of the heat off of any confrontation that might result from the situation.
5. Offer to gather up their things for them.
Part of any good hosting experience in making sure that your guests make it to the door comfortably. Let your friend know that you?re doing your duty (and you want them to leave) by offering to gather up their things and move them to the door.
On the day of their departure, you can make the offer and ask them all kinds of things about their departure that makes you look interested. If it?s come down to a party guest, offer them ?one last drink? or ?one last piece? of whatever dessert you?re serving. This indicates that the evening is over and they won?t be welcome once they?ve finished whatever you?ve offered.
6. Set some rules.
We can get lost in all our hang-ups that center around hosting and hospitality, but it?s important to remember that your space is sacred; it?s also important to remember that you time in that space (alone) is sacred too.
Set ground rules for your space and make it clear to your guests (and everyone else that might find themselves in your space) that you won?t allow those rules to be violated out of respect for yourself and your needs. Express your expectations clearly and in no-uncertain-terms and you?ll find you can avoid most of the unpleasant confrontations.
It all comes back to knowing your boundaries and having enough respect for yourself to stick to them. It also comes back to knowing how and when to speak up for yourself though, and knowing the value for what your peace of mind is worth.
7. Let them know the importance of ?me time?.
A delicately subtle way to let guests know you won?t tolerate straggles is to stress the importance of your ?me time? and your space from the outset of their visit.
No matter how long your guests are staying, let them know that you like to relax when you?re alone in your home and let them know when you?re planning on relaxing during their stay. Schedule your ?me time? just like you normally would and let your guests know when this will be, making it clear that you?ll suffer no interruptions.
You should also make it clear what portions of your home are your space and what portions are their space, making it clear where they are allowed to wander when you?re home and not home. Avoid confusion and be upfront about what you need from your space and your down time. You?ll be grateful for it and so will your guests.
8. Give them something to do.
Nothing will run someone off like giving them chores to do. If you find someone staying past their welcome after a party or a vacation, let them know they?re expected to start pitching in and watch how quickly they run.
Asking someone to pick up after themselves is another one of those more subtle ways to run someone off. It?s also one of the less confrontational ways to discourage someone from overstaying their welcome.
Part of the reason our friends and family take advantage of our charity is because of the level of comfort we offer them. Striving to be good hosts, we go above and beyond for our guest, often taking care of them more like a mother than a friend.
Discouraging that kind of behavior from your friends means discouraging that kind of behavior in yourself. Rather than making it more comfortable for someone that?s taking advantage of you, make it equal instead. Offer them some chores to do and make them pay their way if they?re going to stay.
Putting it all together?
Everyone handles their guests differently, but we all get annoyed when someone overstays their welcome. Whether it?s the little guy that just lingers near your desk after the office Christmas party or that cousin that just won?t get off your couch, figuring out how to politely ask someone to leave is a tricky thing.
By learning how to respect ourselves and set our boundaries, we can make it easier to deal with the friends and family that take advantage of our time, space and charity. Whether you take the direct approach of packing up their things or the subtle approach of giving them chores to do, making it clear that your guest needs to go is a skill that takes grit and determination.
Don?t let your guests overstay their welcome. Recognize your needs and stand up for them no matter what. Your space and your need for peace in it is valid. Kick the clinger?s to the curb and take your space back; one brave little stand at a time.