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Avoiding The Empty Barrels
Live Without Limits 9-27-23
Bryan Golden
Bryan Golden

You know the type. He or she is the loudest at parties, always showing off at work, boasting about their accomplishments to anyone who will listen, or acting as the know it all. There is no specific age, occupation, or education level that categorizes this type of person.

People who act in this fashion are big turnoffs to many. Given the option, you probably seek to escape them whenever possible. Why do people behave in this manner? There are many reasons as well as theories. The cause is unimportant. What does matter is not getting caught by their conduct.

How do you prevent behaving like an empty barrel yourself? Believe in yourself. You don’t have to prove anything else to others. There’s no need to convince anyone of the legitimacy of your dreams. You follow your path because it leads to your destination, not to make an impression.

We all strive to be good at what we do. However, bragging about your competence is never appreciated. Those who do boast are viewed as attempting to make up for some deficiency. It’s OK to be proud of your accomplishments. Real achievements speak for themselves. Keep in mind that your objective is to achieve your dreams, not to impress others.

Rather than talking about yourself, show an interest in what someone else has done. Not only is a good listener appreciated, you will learn a great deal. Everyone has something to teach you, but you have to keep your ears open to discover it.

You encounter empty barrels in all settings; at work, socially, with family, and even with strangers in public. How can you avoid being impacted by them? Each situation requires a different strategy.

At work, the offending person can be a boss, a coworker, or a subordinate. In dealing with your boss, you have to endure some contact. Keep your exposure as brief as possible by focusing your communication on specific work issues. Whenever possible, you can excuse yourself by saying you have to get back to work.

When interfacing with coworkers, also stick to business. If you initiate social conversation, you open the door for annoying behavior. Always be polite. Don’t insult, put down, or embarrass anyone. Excusing yourself to get back to work is effective with coworkers as well.

In managing subordinates, lead by example. You set the tone as to the type of behavior you consider appropriate. If someone is out of line, always speak to him or her in private. Never criticize in public.

Family can be more of a challenge. Depending on the relationship, you may not be able to avoid or minimize interaction. What you can do is try to change the subject as often as necessary. You won’t be able to change the offending person, so don’t waste energy trying.

You have discretion regarding who you interact with socially. Those individuals you find annoying can be avoided. Excusing yourself and walking away is always an option. When confronted by an empty barrel, you aren’t obligated to respond. Just because someone asks you a question or makes an annoying statement doesn’t mean you have to answer.

When facing an empty barrel, you won’t convince them of anything. You won’t change their behavior. You don’t have to defend yourself. The maxim, “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference,” has a lot of validity. Stand aside and let the empty barrels roll by.


Bryan Golden is the author of “Dare to Live Without Limits.” Opinions expressed are those of the author. Contact him at or visit