How To Deal With Difficult People
How To Communicate With a Difficult Person
I think it is safe to say we have all had experience with this.
It’s not fun. It’s not pleasant. And it is pretty much the opposite of my idea of a good time.
But it is a part of life. So let’s talk about how to deal with difficult people.
Every single one of us is unique. We have our own distinct personalities. And we all have different levels and different capacities for what we can handle and process at any given moment.
Of course, dealing with difficult people is very situational. An issue with a family member is different than a situation with a co-worker or a stranger.
But there are some pretty universal ideas we can apply across the board to help us better manage these interactions.
These tips are not about having comebacks ready for possible confrontations. This is not about creating a defensive strategy book to keep in your back pocket.
The real key to dealing with a challenging person or situation is truly about you.
Often in my own life, I have allowed others to have quite a bit of power over me.
I guess I should let you in on a little secret. I am not a confrontational person. Not at all.
I am the kind of person that would rather climb into an ice bath than tell the barista at Starbucks I received the wrong drink.
So it is safe to say that I have spent many years trying to steer clear of difficult people and awkward or uncomfortable situations.
But I live in the real world, and the real world is not full of puppies and rainbows. I mean there are a lot of puppies but we are all going to step in some s*it at one time or another.
Remember how I mentioned these tips start with you? Well, that means that you don’t have to or need to wait to practice them or put them to use until you find yourself in a situation that makes you want to run for the hills.
Use these tips as tools there to make navigating the world a tad bit smoother.
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Here Are 6 Tips All About How To Deal With Difficult People
1) You Control…
Only yourself. You only have a real say over the choices you make.
You are in charge of how you respond to any situation.
In the past, I have told myself that if I do everything “right” then there is no reason for someone to be unkind or give me a hard time.
This is so stressful. Let’s not even talk about the immense amount of pressure this thought process creates.
I am in control of myself. You are in control of yourself. Your neighbor Pam is in control of herself. The librarian you see 4 times a week is in control of herself.
Does our attitude or our choices play a part? Of course. Interactions are a back and forth.
But the more we remind ourselves that we are only in control of ourselves, the better off we will be.
And by better off I mean we may feel like a burden has been lifted off our shoulders. We may feel lighter.
We will be free. Free from feeling an unnecessary responsibility for others.
2) Try Not To Take Things Personally
Heavy emphasis on the TRY part.
This is hard. Holy heck is it hard.
But we allow others to do so much unnecessary damage when we take their words and actions personally.
People are facing struggles and fighting battles that we know nothing about. This does not in any way excuse behavior.
But it definitely helps me to gain perspective which impacts greatly how I approach or respond to a situation.
For example, I am not my best self when I am sleep-deprived. So during the newborn days with both my kiddos I am sure I had my moments of not handling situations in a way I normally would.
My patience tank was running on fumes for a few months! The point is that I am sure others felt my wrath at times. But it had absolutely nothing to do with them.
Have you ever been involved in a not-so-pleasant encounter with someone else and that one interaction hung onto your all day? Like a leech.
Maybe it was even bothering you the next day.
There are times we may take on the role of an innocent bystander.
This is when it is crucial to not let the actions of another person permeate every part of us.
3) Lead With Kindness
This is not about plastering a smile on your face and being nice no matter what.
When dealing with difficult people or situations, it is no easy feat to keep our composure and not go on the defense.
But staying calm and composed is the superior route to take.
In any situation, we can either add fuel to the fire or work to put the fire out.
Bigger and bolder and louder do not equate to someone or something being more powerful.
Leading with kindness can impact how we feel at the end of the day. It can impact our inner peace.
And kindness really can go a long way in making any situation better but also our overall lives so much better.
See how it always comes back to us. Full circle all the way!
4) Set a Boundary
Do you have trouble saying no? Do you ever find yourself struggling to stand your ground or even stick up for yourself because you feel like it is bad manners?
If you don’t struggle with this, then good for you! You have unlocked a super-secret power source and will be moving on to the next level of life.
But seriously, setting a boundary is not bad manners. It is not rude.
So many of us struggle with this. And it can be so deeply rooted in us.
I am 37 years old. Learning about boundaries is a challenge simply due to the fact that it is requiring me to work through years of doing things a certain way. It’s like undoing the most complicated and intricate knot ever.
However, it is SO VERY necessary.
This book is pretty close to magical.
It is eye-opening on top of obviously being extremely informative. The entire book is dedicated to the ins and outs of boundaries!
It introduces and discusses every single thing about boundaries and how we can apply them to our own lives. The real-life examples are my favorite part.
It’s one of those books that you will be going back to over and over again for little reminders.
5) Don’t Take The Bait
This is not to say to ignore someone who is being rude or unkind to you. But I strongly believe that mean people want to spark something in you.
They want a reaction.
Bad attitudes want some company. Or as the saying goes… misery loves company.
Taking the high road is not you giving up in any way.
Quite the opposite actually.
It is you choosing yourself and your inner peace over negativity.
It is you prioritizing yourself and your state of mind. This will always be a good choice.
Now, others will most likely not feel the same way. But that is their issue to deal with.
6) Protect Your Joy
Let’s be real here. Even a small encounter with a difficult person can have an impact on us and on our day.
People say things like “don’t let them get to you” but that is SO MUCH easier said than done. But we have to do something. Especially if we sense that we are carrying this negative situation with us.
Search out some joy. Do something that makes you feel good.
And this can be a super simple thing. For me, it’s music. A three-minute song can snap me out of a bad mood.
Sunshine is another go-to for me. Getting outside can do wonders.
Don’t underestimate the power of small bursts of happiness or fun.
My mom always told me that not-so-nice people are usually not the happiest people.
People who are happy and living their best lives will probably not be intentionally unkind to others. At least not on a regular basis.
I mean, we are human. We all have our off days. But for the most part, people that choose to be unkind are most likely dealing with a deeper issue.
Again, as I mentioned earlier, this does not excuse any type of behavior.
It is easy to talk about all these things. It’s another thing to implement them in our daily lives.
Will it take time to get comfortable with ideas or habits that feel completely foreign to you? Absolutely.
But here’s the thing.
Time is going to pass no matter what. Think about what you want that time to be spent on.
Have any advice on how to deal with difficult people?
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