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We all have to interact with people we don’t get along with at some point in our lives.  Sometimes, those people are so emotionally intense, anxious, and self-absorbed that the only word that accurately describes their nature is “uptight.”  In her latest publication, Uptight and In Your Face: Coping with an Anxious Boss, Parent, Spouse, or Lover, Nina W. Brown offers practical advice on how to identify, classify, and cope with the uptight people we interact with on a day-to-day basis.

Uptight and In Your Face begins with defining the term “uptight.”  Although the definition given in the dictionary is often sufficient to get an understanding of a person’s nature, the author expands the given definition to paint a better portrait of the uptight person.  An assessment is provided to determine just how uptight a given person is. 

The remainder of the book focuses on classifying uptight people.  Five classifications are given, although the author notes that an uptight person may fit in to one, two, or even all of the categories.  Each chapter provides another assessment to determine the level of intensity, anxiety, or self-absorption that is characteristic of that type of uptight person. 

The chapters close with a few do’s and don’ts for coping with a person who fits into that specific category.  The book’s closing chapter discusses methods of how to cope with uptight people as they are identified and classified, and provides exercises to reduce your own level of stress, anxiety, intensity, and self-absorption.

The five classifications of uptight people, as outlined by Brown, are:

  • The Impoverished-self Hoarder Type
  • The Austere Withholding Type
  • The Indulgent and Entitled Type
  • The Controlling and Manipulative Type
  • The Revengeful Complainer Type

Each type has its own characteristics which, in some instances, create chaos and discord within that person’s internal landscape.  The Impoverished-Self-Hoarder type, for example, holds on to all of his or her past emotions—both positive and negative—and then uses those memories and experiences as an excuse for treating others poorly.  A person who fits into the Austere Withholding type keeps information or other resources from others in an attempt to maintain an advantage—such as not spending more money than they feel is necessary because they fear that an excess of money is essential for survival.  The Indulgent and Entitled type of person believes that he or she is the most important person on the planet and therefore deserves special treatment; I often think of the spoiled, rich kids of the television reality shows and sitcoms such as The Real World or Beverly Hills: 90210.  The Controlling and Manipulative type exploits others’ naïveté or weaknesses for their own gain—I am reminded of cult leaders and other, often abusive, relationships.  A person who fits the description of the Revengeful Complainer often feels as if everyone and everything is against him or her, often more than the stereotypical adolescent.

Of the methods suggested for coping with an uptight person, one in particular stands out as especially effective.  Essentially, the method suggests that you leave the situation, the uptight person leave the situation, or you do what the uptight person asks you to do without question.  If it is impossible for you to leave the situation, and the uptight person shows no signs of wanting to leave the situation, appeasing the uptight person is the best option; attempting to argue with or change the uptight person will only backfire and make the situation worse.  Keeping your own stress level under control is important when you are appeasing an uptight person.  The author includes several exercises for controlling your stress.

Overall, I feel that the book offers good information and strategies for developing your own coping plan.  Dealing with uptight people can be frustrating, and although we may not want to admit that the only way to get them to leave us alone is to do what they want us to do, the author makes it clear that there is often no other effective choice.  Is Uptight and In Your Face effective?  Yes.  I recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t feel they understand why uptight people are the way they are or feel trapped in a situation where they must deal with an uptight person.  Just remember: in most cases, you have the option to leave and not have to deal with the uptight person anymore; however, if that person is a significant part of your life—such as a boss, parent, spouse, lover, etc.—you may have no choice but to let nature take its course and do what he or she wants.  It’s not always fair, but it will definitely save you a bunch of headaches.

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APA Reference
Tyzzer, G. (2010). Uptight and In Your Face: Coping with an Anxious Boss, Parent, Spouse, or Lover. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/uptight-and-in-your-face-coping-with-an-anxious-boss-parent-spouse-or-lover/0005290
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.