HOW TO BETTER DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
They’re all over the place. The rude cashier. The “friend” who tends to criticize the little things you do. The person who’s always complaining and looking at the negative side to everything. Or simply put, difficult people.
Being around difficult people can affect your mood by leaving you feeling irritated. You can’t always avoid dealing with difficult people and you sure can’t control them. But you always have control over how you react to these types of people.
Next time you’re dealing with a difficult person, try some of these strategies to keep your cool and stay in control.
BREATH. Slowly and long.
Negative people will push your buttons and may trigger the fight or flight response. You may feel like yelling at them or hitting them, but that’ll only make things worse. I understand there are situations where you have to defend yourself, but the majority of the time reacting violently is only wasting your time and energy on someone who is not worth your time and energy. Staying calm is the way for you to keep an upper hand and think clearly of how you’re going to respond.
As they’re being negative, quietly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Try to do this quietly because if you’re breathing loud it may come across as huffing and puffing and giving them a negative attitude back. Unless that is your intention.
Literally put room between you both. This again helps you not trigger the fight or flight response due to that person being in your personal space.
In most situations, it’s better to walk away to avoid you from hurting them, physically or with your words.
Practice active listening.
Really pay attention and listen to what the person is saying. Are they complaining out of frustration? Are their feelings hurt so they’re reacting to you?
Their words may be saying one thing, but their body language and tone says another. Pay attention to these signals. This will help you find a solution and communicate more effectively.
Ask yourself “I wonder why they’re acting like this?”
Asking this question gets you to take a step back and try to look at the bigger picture. Maybe they’ve had a bad day. Maybe they just dealt with a negative situation. Or maybe they are just a rude person.
This does not justify their behavior. Instead, it helps you realize their behavior is most likely due to something they’re going through and has little to nothing to do with you.
Fact is, how other people behave and think has very little to do with you. It’s a reflection of who they are inside or what they’re going through.
When you don’t take things personal, it’s much easier to not react to them by staying in control.
Find a solution
What is the point for the disagreement? Is it a misunderstanding? Or are they acting entitled and just being rude?
By staying calm, it’s so much more easier to react rationally.
Sometimes there is a clear solution. And other times the solution is to simply walk away before you do or say something that could have negative consequences.
“Don’t take anything Personally Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering”
―Don Miguel Ruiz
About the author.
Liza J Alvarado is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and the Spanish speaking individuals in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.