Tips for Managing Difficult People in Your Life
There’s no way to avoid them, difficult people are everywhere. They’re driving with you on your commute each day, possibly annoying or frustrating you with their lack of driving skill, they’re at the office with you, at the grocery store, and even at home sometimes. It’s not feasible to avoid annoying or difficult people completely – but there are a few ways to make it more bearable, as well as some lessons to help you move forward in a positive way. Difficult or annoying people can be different to everyone, but some main qualities could include people who are often late, people who only talk about themselves, people who cut you off while driving, or in the grocery store, and generally just basic rudeness that people exhibit.
What connects all of these poor behaviors together?
It’s all about personality styles. Most things are in life. Difficult people usually don’t know that they are being difficult. You (and I) are also probably considered to be difficult in certain situations, and you can be completely unaware of it.
Personality styles can clash and leave others wondering why they’re somehow speaking a different language than the other person. What’s the most important takeaway from knowing that it is a personality conflict and not someone purposely trying to be difficult? It’s important to recognize people’s strengths as well as their weaknesses. For example: I had a co-worker who constantly sent me emails with EVERY other WORD in CAPS. To me, it felt like he was shouting at me in each email exchange, but if you factor in the personality type of the emailer: expressive, social, dynamic, excitable – this person was enthusiastic and trying to emphasize certain points via caps, even if I wasn’t receiving the message that way.
A person’s “bad” behavior has more to do with them than it does with you
Whether it is a personality quirk, a bad day, or an insecurity over something, most interactions with difficult people don’t really have that much to do with anything you’ve brought to the table.
#1: A good way to diffuse a difficult situation is to communicate better.
How do you communicate better you ask? Well I’ll tell you…
- Identify the real issue at hand through some simple questions to help uncover what the discord is really about
- Manage your own expectations: understanding both the strengths and weaknesses of the person you are engaging with to help to keep you more level-headed during a discussion
- Managing your non-verbals (your body language) to make sure that the words coming out of your mouth are consistent with the expression on your face, and the stance of your body.
- Never be defensive with a difficult person: maintain your calm, finish out the convo and move on with your day. You do not need to defend your actions to most difficult people in life (unless it’s a boss or loved one) and if you do, just state the facts, non-defensively.
- Did you know that when words and non-verbal messages were in conflict, people believe the non-verbal every time?
#2: Set boundaries with the difficult people in your life
- In the case of those difficult people that you need to see every day, you may want to set a clear and firm boundary of what you are willing to accept and what you are not willing to put up with.
On the positive side, there are also many benefits to dealing with difficult individuals daily and correctly:
- Increasing your own level of patience
- Building more empathy, care, and concern for those you deal with and manage daily
- Building more authentic relationships with people when you know who they are and what governs their actions.
A good thing to remember…
“It’s not what I say; it’s the way that I say it. It’s not what I do, it’s the way that I do it.” – Mae West
What are some tricks you use to deal with difficult people and hang on to your own patience? Please share below
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