The liar, the cynic, the needy, the control-freak, the flake, the manipulator, the show-off, the envious, the pretender, the arguer…
There’s no easy way to put this across: this article isn’t going to be easy to read.
Life is difficult. There is no doubt everyone is going to run into people who will come across as difficult at some point or other. You might be dealing with a liar, who is constantly inconsistent, or the cynic, who is always pessimistic about everything, or the attention-and-validation-seeking needy person who will want you to give them what they want… all the time.
Not everyone you are going to meet in your life is going to be someone you like and can work with; and not everyone you meet is going to like you and can work with you. Sometimes, we are going to meet people in our lives that we cannot change – like difficult bosses or a difficult in-law.
Being with a difficult person is… difficult. A difficult person can make you defensive. You might find it difficult to constantly stop yourself from punching the difficult person in the face. You might find yourself giving up on, or withdrawing from the difficult person when your frustration, hurt, or fear is too much over time.
I’d like to put forward away out of this difficult situation: you can learn to better deal with difficult people in your life by focusing on your response. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds, but it will take work.
How is the person being difficult?
How you can deal with difficult people starts with recognizing how the person is being difficult.
Note I say how as opposed to why.
Focusing on the how allows us to focus on the person’s behaviors. This shifts the focus away from the person (i.e. It’s not about you but the things that you do). So the first step in dealing with difficult people is about you being able to say: “I don’t like this xxx behavior of yours”, which is very different from saying “I don’t like you. Period.”
Focusing on the why tends to give us permission to be defensive. It can lead us down the path of personal justification and rationalization that seldom result in workable solutions.
So who is the person and how is the individual being difficult?
When we can control our urge to be defensive when dealing with a difficult person, we can then shift our focus on identifying the difficult persons in our lives and recognizing how they are being difficult.
Is your boss always on your back? Telling you that you are not good enough? Is your long-term friend always leaving you in the lurch? Telling you that is what friends are for? Is your mother-in-law constantly putting you down? Telling you what to do?
Being able to clearly state who is the difficult person, followed by what is the behavior we find difficult, give us excellent opportunities to examine what is really going on.
Where are the boundaries?
For some of us, dealing with difficult people begins with gaining clarity who are the difficult people in our lives. When life gets tough, it is easier to shrug our shoulders and go, Life is difficult! Everything is difficult! Here’s a challenge for you: will you be willing to re-examine this now? Are all the people in your life difficult? Who are the real baddies? Name them. Single them out. How is that person being difficult? In what ways? Spit it out.
What motivates difficult behavior?
For those who are able to pinpoint the difficult people and how they are being difficult, the next step in is about seeing what motivates the behavior that makes it come across as difficult to us. (Assuming of course, we have successfully removed our defenses and are willing to see things for what it is.)
There are different motivations that drive people to behave in certain ways, and it is these motivations that can sometimes turn difficult for us. Don’t you hate it when you are asked to do more?
Here’s some food for thought: How is it when someone asks you to do more, you hate it? If you can put that aside, what is driving that person to make you do more? And what if, just what if, in that urging you to do more, you become better at what you do? And if you are benefitting from doing more so that you become better at what you do, is the person really being difficult in the first place?
So what is really difficult?
Be warned: what you are about to read is going to get difficult.
When you encounter a difficult person, what is really happening to you?
If you secretly envy someone because that person is better than you, and when that person points out a better way to get something done, what is your response? If you are finding an excuse to label someone as being difficult because deep down, you feel insecure but you will never want to admit to it; instead you put on a pretense, you become argumentative to mask how you really feel, are you aware of what is really going on? Or, when things get too difficult for you and you feel helpless, you put yourself down in the hope that someone would come and save you… what is really going on?
When you can be honest with what’s really going on inside you, perhaps you can find new ways to deal with difficult people. Perhaps you could even find the courage to be honest with the other individual, perhaps start the process of dealing with the built-up animosity between you two as the result of certain counter-behaviors that were taken.
What will be your next move?
You don’t have to handle difficult people on your own. Find out more about how you can deal with difficult people using TruSelf Methodology
- Difficult employees? Attend corporate workshops to learn better management skills.
- Managing team conflicts.
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