6 Tips on Dealing with Difficult People

How to deal with frustrating behavior so you can stay positive!

It is an inevitable fact of life: You’re going to have to deal with difficult people along the way. Difficult individuals can come in many forms. They may be co-workers, neighbors, landlords, your relatives…

Typically, when dealing with troublesome people, I proceed in two ways: Either I “kill them with kindness,” or I limit interaction. But what if proceeding this way feels impossible, for example, with a difficult mother- in-law or father-in-law? It may be difficult to limit interaction, and if you try to kill them with kindness the only thing you may end up killing are your spirits.

In these cases, here are a few tips that may help you manage your interactions with the difficult individuals in your life.

1) BE DIRECT 

Difficult people may seek holes in your statements in order to benefit their desired action or argument.

How?

Be concise and direct in your interactions with them, so they won’t be able to easily manipulate you in this way.

2) LISTEN AND VALIDATE

Occasionally, someone may exhibit problematic behavior because they feel like they aren’t being heard.

How?

• Fight the urge to immediately react.

• Instead listen to what they’re saying.

• Validate their statements by repeating what they’ve just said. This may help them feel heard and it may even help them realize how they sound to others.


 

3) DON’T APPEASE

Be direct and listen, yes. But do NOT appease them.

How?

It may be tempting to give in to difficult demands because you just want the situation to be over. But appeasing may not only affect your own self-worth, it may also encourage this person to expect to steamroll you again in future situations.

4) EXAGGERATION OF FACTS

Difficult individuals tend to exaggerate: “This is the worst day ever!” or “You are never on time!”

How?

Instead of rolling your eyes, don’t hesitate to point out their exaggerations, even subtly. “You’re right that today I wasn’t on time. But Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I was early.

5) DON’T TAKE THINGS TO HEART

You will be able to handle difficult people with more ease when you realize that their behavior is a reflection of them, not you.

How?

Even if you can’t create physical distance, you can create an emotional distance. Difficult people can be like vampires. Don’t allow them to suck away your positive energy!

6) ONE FINAL TIP

If you are dealing with a person who might have an effect on your finances, like a landlord, always, always get everything in writing.

And, of course, breathe and realize you’re not alone. I try to say to myself, “I’m not the center of the universe, and likely this person responds this way with everyone. I am no different than any of their other targets.”

 

This article was originally published in the April issue of Military Spouse Magazine. To make sure you don’t miss any great content, click here for subscription information!

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