Dealing with a flaky person can be super frustrating at times, but they can also be really fun. Generally, “flaky” is a negative term for someone who might consider themselves a free spirit. Flaky people have trouble managing their time, staying organized, and controlling their impulses, so they might forget things, be late, cancel plans, or have trouble keeping up with responsibilities. You can detect flaky people by watching for common flaky behaviors. Once you recognize a person as flaky, there are ways to help you improve your relationship with them.
Method 1 of 2:Watching for Flaky Behaviors
1Track how often they cancel plans to see if it's a habit. Getting frequently canceled on is super frustrating, so you'll probably notice this behavior first. It's common for people who are flaky to cancel plans often, sometimes at the last minute. Consider how frequently the person backs out on plans to see if they might be flaky.
For example, you might plan to see a movie with them on Friday but they text you on Friday afternoon to tell you something came up. Similarly, you might get a text from them the day before you're supposed to go out with them saying something like, “I'm feeling kinda sick. I think we should cancel our plans tomorrow just in case.”
2Notice if the person often arrives late. People who are flaky typically have trouble managing their time, so they may arrive late to work, school, and events. Consider if you often find yourself waiting for them to arrive or if you feel like you can't ever count on them to be on time. Similarly, recognize if you feel like you have to tell them events start earlier than they really do so they get there on time.
For instance, you might have plans to meet them for coffee at noon but they arrive around 12:30 p.m.
3Pay attention to how long it takes for them to return calls and texts. You might notice that the flaky person in your life seems to periodically respond to you. They may sometimes respond quickly, but it might be common for them to send delayed responses or to never respond. This can be super annoying to you! Track how often this person leaves you hanging to see if they might be a flake.
As an example, you might text them, “Are you going to the party on Friday?” A day later, you might receive a text that says, “Maybe! Are you?” Alternatively, they might never respond. Then, when they bump into you at the party, they might say, “Oh! I meant to respond to your text.”
Tip: Keep in mind that some people might fail to return texts and calls because they're overwhelmed with their schedule, dealing with depression, or feeling very anxious. Try not to assume the worst about people who aren't returning your texts and calls.
4Watch for signs they struggle to keep up with their responsibilities. Because flaky people usually have trouble staying organized, they often neglect responsibilities. For instance, they might fall behind on work or school activities or might have trouble keeping their space clean. Notice if you feel like you often have to do things for them or carry their weight.
As an example, when you're working on a group project with them, you might feel like you're doing more of the work. Similarly, if you share a home with them, you might feel like they don't keep up with their chores.
5Pay attention to if they forget important things, like your birthday. One of the key traits of flaky people is forgetfulness. In addition to losing their things, they may forget dates, stories, and details. Consider if you get frustrated with them because they don't remember important information you told them.
For example, they might forget an important anniversary or a special day that you're celebrating. Additionally, they might forget important information you told them, like that your pet passed away or you need help moving.
6Notice if they often promise more than they can deliver. You might notice that your flaky friend or coworker commits to big projects or offers to help with things but doesn't follow through. They might sometimes abandon the project altogether, but they'll often partially deliver on what they promised. Pay attention to how well they follow through to see if a person may be flaky.
For example, a coworker might tell you they're going to prepare a big presentation for a client but only send you a few slides. Similarly, a friend might promise to help you plan a mutual friend's birthday party but only bring a few miscellaneous supplies.
7Watch for unpredictable behavior. Flaky people are often impulsive and curious, so it's common for them to be unpredictable. Often, this type of behavior is what makes them fun to be around! Notice how often the person does things you don't expect to see if they could be flaky.
For instance, let's say you're hanging out with a flaky friend on a Saturday night. They might randomly suggest that you go on a scavenger hunt. Similarly, they might start dancing at a bar even though no one else is doing it.
As another example, a flaky friend might whip out a deck of tarot cards at a formal party. Alternatively, they might go back and forth between being vegan.
8Notice if they often engage in risky behaviors. Because of their impulsiveness, flaky people sometimes participate in activities that might be harmful to their overall health. At times, these behaviors might be frustrating for you, especially if you find yourself helping them out afterward. Keep track of how often this person engages in risky behaviors, such as the following:
Overeating junk food
Going on spending sprees
Driving too fast
Having unsafe sex
Method 2 of 2:Dealing with Flaky People
1Show compassion because they might have a deeper issue. Sometimes people seem flaky because they have a condition like depression, anxiety, or ADHD. Similarly, they may have trouble staying organized or might live a very busy or chaotic life. While their behavior may be unfair to you, they aren't doing it to be hurtful. Try to be understanding about the deeper reasons for their behavior.
Don't try to diagnose someone with a mental health condition. Just understand that it's possible that the person has an underlying reason for acting the way they do.
2Talk to the person about specific behaviors that bother you. You deserve to feel respected and shouldn't have to carry someone else's weight. When your flaky person does something that hurts you, tell them what they did and how it made you feel. Then, ask them if they can work on improving this behavior going forward.
Let's say your partner is flaky and often forgets to do the dishes. You might say, “When the dishes are still dirty in the morning, I feel really stressed and worry that they'll attract bugs. Then, I end up doing them for you. What changes can we make to help you remember to do them?”
Similarly, let's say your friend is always late when they're meeting up with you. Say, “I feel unimportant when you don't show up on time. What can we do to help you arrive on time?”
3Work around their flakiness so it's less of a problem. You probably wish they'd stop being flaky, but it's a very difficult behavior to overcome. Chances are, they'd prefer if you were more flexible with them. To help both of you get what you want, compromise by acknowledging that they are flaky when you make plans. Here are some ways to do that:
Create padding in your schedule so they can be late.
Plan an activity that you can do while you wait for them.
Let them pick places and activities.
Don't base plans around them.
Avoid agreeing to rides with them.
Include other people in your plans so you can still go if they flake.
4Invite them to do something fun if you're spending time together. Generally, flaky people know how to have fun. They're often spontaneous and impulsive, so they can help you have new adventures. Take advantage of these traits by letting them help you have a great time.
For instance, invite them to do karaoke or visit a new bar.
5Let them experience the consequences of ignoring their responsibilities. Cleaning up someone's mess can be super frustrating. You might even feel resentful about having to help a flaky partner or coworker. However, it's not your responsibility to take care of their problems. If they neglect to do something, leave it for them to fix.
As an example, let's say your roommate left their clothes in the hallway. Don't pick them up! Leave the clothes there until they come get them.
Similarly, your coworker might have done only half of a report. Send them an email with your boss copied on it that says something like, “This is the report that I have received from you. Half of the data is missing. Is this your final version?” This alerts your boss to the issue so you get credit for any extra work you do.
6Give them time to grow into their responsibility, if possible. Most people who are flaky will eventually become more responsible. However, they might take longer than other people their age. Remember that everyone is different, and it's okay for someone to be strong in some areas and weak in others. Be patient with them as they learn to be more organized and self-controlled.
If your partner is flaky, this might mean running a more relaxed household with fewer chores. Similarly, you might decide to wait on commitments like marriage and children.
If your coworker is flaky, you might avoid giving them tasks that require a lot of organization.
Did You Know? Flaky people tend to act on impulse, and impulse control doesn't really start to develop until you're in your 20s. That means many people who are considered flaky will gradually become more responsible as they age.
7Show appreciation when they follow through on something. The best way to help your flaky person improve their behavior is to reward them when they do something well. When they arrive on time, keep plans, or remember something important, tell them that you really appreciate their effort. This may encourage them to do these things more often.
Say something like, “Thank you so much for coming to my birthday party tonight. I saw that you were early, and that makes me feel so good!”