How do deal with difficult people...because we can't avoid them forever!
We all have relationships with people in our life that are not easy. Sometimes we encounter difficult people while driving—the people who cut across 4 lanes of traffic to make that left hand turn while on the phone. Sometimes we encounter difficult people in our personal life— people who we have daily interactions with like a coworker or a family member. Sometimes we have dealt with difficult people in our past and we have carried that hurt with us into our adult life.
Check out these tips for how to start making your challenging relationships more rewarding:
1. Don’t take it personally. When people are difficult it reflects who they are--not who you are. Plus people’s circumstances are way more complicated than we can imagine; there might be a good reason they’re acting that way! If we can look beyond our hurt and see their pain, we can empathize. As the saying goes, “hurting people hurt people.”
2. Take a deep breath and try de-escalate the situation. Try defusing tension with humor (when appropriate!)If you get in a heated argument with someone, your “fight or flight” adrenaline response will take over your body. Give that time to pass through you and then you can let them know that you understand why they are frustrated and that you want to come to an agreement. Be aware of your body language and try to not come off hostile or stand-offish.
3. Forgive them. Don’t wait for an apology to forgive. Resentment is a poison only you are drinking. It only hurts you from the inside out. Be assertive towards the other person with your forgiveness.
4. Don’t play the game that the difficult person wants you to play. Take the high road. When someone is trying to egg you on, kill them with kindness. If you can refrain from engaging with their game they will eventually stop trying to get you to play it.
5. Embrace the fact that you are a difficult person too. Don’t think that you are better than anyone else or that someone isn’t reading this blog and thinking of you as their difficult person. Be honest with your evaluation of yourself. Treat others how you would want to be treated yourself. We are all not perfect, after all.
Remember that sometimes relationships that are worth nurturing aren’t always the easiest relationships in your life. Don’t get discouraged. By healing your difficult relationships, you can actually heal yourself. You can use the tips listed above to help propel your career, your marriage, your relationship with your (future) kids, and most importantly, your relationship with yourself.