Welcome to Thinking on Thursday! As I complete my Mindfulness Certification it becomes more clear that the only way to deal with difficult people is to control our own responses. There are difficult people everywhere. I would say in the work environment is where you would encounter difficult people the most. But, it can also be in families, friends, or just in the general public. There are two videos below. The first one is very good in talking about why we should learn to deal with difficult people. He very frankly states because it is your heart attack. We have all heard the phrase, stress kills. Stress management is a very important skill to have. Stress manifests in other ways besides a Heart Attack. Stress can cause stomach pains, ulcers, headaches, high blood pressure, missed work days, productivity issues and so much more.
Difficult people are everywhere. I encounter them all the time at work. I have been a nurse for 34 years and I have worked with all types of personalities. But, one must also take into account that they themselves may be a difficult person. I know I can sometimes be perceived as difficult, because I am persistent and ask questions. But, I am not trying to be difficult. I am just looking for answers to whatever I am passionate about at the time. I have had to learn to control this behavior of my own to build better and stronger relationships. Self awareness is the first step to any good relationship. Sometimes it is just an immaturity issue and other times it is a personality, domineering, manipulative type of issue.
So, what makes a person a difficult person?
1- It is all about them. They tend to be dramatic, loud, demanding and yes persistent. They tend to be the person who shares their whole life story, and it is similar to a soap opera. The whoa is me, poor me, type of person.
2- They never give favors without payback. They will always expect something in return for a good deed. There is no random acts of kindness for this type of person.
3- They live in a pity party. This goes back to the poor me, whoa is me, type of person. They are always a victim if you will. They are very skillful at manipulating others.
4- They whine, complain and gossip. This type of person is never going to be happy no matter what you do. I am sure you know at least one type of this person. They are in everyone’s business and make it a point to gather information from everyone, and anyone. They will later use any info gathered for their own advantage. This is a truly toxic type of person.
5- Last but not least the person who lives in their own little world of make believe. There is little reality to how they perceive the world.
Now, with all that said all of us can fit into these labels at one time or another in our lives. We can all be difficult and it all comes down to how we perceive the world and others, and then react to those perceptions.
So, how to deal with difficult people and avoid the stress, tension, conflict and yes even a Heart Attack?
1- Be self aware to how you are reacting to the person that is being difficult. Take note of your heart rate, breathing pattern, sweatiness, tension or any other reactions you are feeling. Take a deep breath and clear your thoughts. Be sure you are not making it worse by your reactions. This is hard, I know. How we react to people is just as important as their behavior.
2- If you need to take a time out, or walk away, do so. You can say I will be back in a minute. Or if it is something you can just walk away and ignore do so.
3- Deflect or distract away from the behavior or conversation.
4- Restate back to them what they are saying, but in a different way. Such as I am sorry you feel like, whatever it is. Or did I offend you when I did this? What have I done to offend you? Etc Good communication keys are vital to any relationship.
5- Try to see their point of view, or perspective, without agreeing with them if it is something you can not agree with.
6- Ask them to consider a time out, or walk away, if they continue to escalate.
7- Set boundaries and stick to them. This is especially difficult in the work place. I am often told I am not friendly enough at work because I do not share my family life beyond basics with anyone. I believe work relationships be exactly that work relationships, not personal relationships. This just keeps the boundaries clear especially if you are in a management, or supervisory role. My coworkers know they can talk to me about anything they need help with, but that it will be professional, not personal.
8- Don’t be part of the problem. What do I mean? If a difficult person has provoked you or said things about you, don’t retaliate. Don’t return their favor by doing the same. If you are being harassed, or bullied, however, then you need to follow the chain of command at your work place and make sure it is in the written record.
The two videos below are excellent and further explore this issue. Never think that you are not being difficult too. It often goes both ways.
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