The Difficults

We encounter them every day.

At work, at home, on vacation, in school, on the street.  They come in many guises.  In fact, we might sometimes be considered one of “them.”

We encounter a wide variety of people throughout our lives.  Many of them leave positive impressions that we carry with us for a long time.  Occasionally, however, we encounter those individuals who, for whatever reasons, are difficult to deal with.  Maybe it’s a colleague or a close friend that you perceive is deliberately being obtuse, inviting trouble, or doing foolish things that annoy you.  Sometimes it may be possible to appease, placate, or avoid those people short term.  Dealing with them in the long term, however, is exhausting.  The behavior of difficult people can even make you feel like losing your temper.  But the best advice is: keep cool.  Staying centered is the first step, especially if you are ready to confront them about their behavior.

Avoiding a difficult person can prove nearly impossible, and is most likely not in your best interest, especially if you live or work together.  Attempts to steer clear of them can become a source of future stress and anxiety when they are a part of your social circle.  When this is the case, it is best to address the situation directly, in as kind and non-aggressive way as possible. Try not to let their actions or mood impact you in a negative way.  One way that I handle this is to remind myself (sometimes repeatedly) that their behavior and actions are not about me. This helps me to shield myself from absorbing their negativity and puts me outside their influence and helps me to keep my mental and emotional equilibrium.

Dealing-with-Difficult-peopIn approaching “the Difficults,” tell the person how their actions make you feel, and encourage them toward a more positive course of action.  Speak assertively, but respectfully, and don’t portray yourself as a victim.  Another approach might be to gain a deeper and better understanding of who that person is at their core.  Ask them specific questions about why they do or say certain things.  If you disagree with their motives, question them further so you can try and discover the root of their behaviors.  In doing so, you may be able to gently shift their perceptions or derail their outbursts, or at least help them to understand your point of view.

It’s best to think about what you want to say to a difficult person before you actually approach them. If you can, avoid being accusatory or judgmental, or even defensive, and try to approach the conversation as objectively as you can.  If the person is open to the idea, try coming to an agreement.  If approaching them fails and they’re resistant to understanding, let it go and move on.  There is no reason to let a difficult person or situation have power over your state of mind or being.  Remember that a lot can be accomplished when you take the time to listen and offer up alternative perspectives.