How To Deal With Difficult People

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How To Deal With Difficult People

There are always going to be people in our office and our lives that are just a pain in the butt. What often happens is that we start to develop an immediate reaction to those people. We walk into situations with those people ready to pounce.

We know it’s going to be difficult so instead of going in being ready for anything, we go in ready to fight.

Here are 5 ways to help you deal with that difficult person:

1. Learn To Pause

One of the first things we have to learn when dealing with difficult people is how to pause and be silent. We have to learn to take a breath and set down some of our assumptions.

Try counting to three or four in your head before speaking. That can help you be less reactive in a moment with a difficult person and more intentional with how you respond.

2. Learn To Rehearse

Andrea Bonior, a doctor who writes for psychology today, explains that we need to be prepared before we even go into difficult situations.

It’s no different than how I prepare before I get on stage to present a keynote. I don’t just walk up and adlib it. I walk in with a plan. I’ve worked on my talk and created scenarios about how I’m going to work the room. I have a game plan going into every single talk and I rehearse it.

We have to do the same thing when we know we’re going to have a difficult conversation because difficult people can throw us off our game. They can make us emotional and get under our skin, which causes us to react instead of intentionally respond.

Also, If we identify what the person does to make themselves so difficult and work on how to counter that, we won’t be caught off guard, because we’ve prepared for it. We’ve thought through what we’re going to say to the person or how we’re going to manage them so we’re not thinking of how to respond, on the fly.

3. Learn To Be Intentional With A Desired Outcome

When we go into a conversation with the office jerk, what are we hoping the interaction does? Are we trying to move forward on a project? Are we trying to figure out who a decision-maker is?

If we go in with a game plan and a desired outcome, then we can be intentional with how we respond.

When there starts to be a little friction, it can help us stay on track in the conversation. Plus, we will most likely leave the conversations less frustrated, because we knew what our desired outcome was and we continually worked toward it.

4. Learn to Think About the Situation, Not Just the Person

When we get frustrated with certain people, it’s really easy to focus on the person and make it about them, instead of about the situation.

I’ve talked before about how we have to make the feedback that we give others about their actions and not the individual. It’s not that they were stupid for making a certain decision, it’s that they made this specific action and we need to discover why.

It can be really easy when dealing with a difficult person to make it personal and emotional. But when has that ever helped a situation? Never. So we have to keep our focus on the task at hand.

5. Learn That Connection, Relationship, and Empathy Goes a Long Way

A lot of people are going through battles and fights that we have no idea about. Sometimes a little bit of understanding, patience, and grace can go a long way in dealing with a difficult person, who may not know they’re being difficult. Maybe they’re just having a rough time outside the office and nobody knows about it.

Who you are at work bleeds into life and who you are in life bleeds into work. Having a little patience, grace, and empathy can go a long way for someone.

Just because they’re difficult today doesn’t mean they’re always going to be. And just because they’re difficult, doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them and make them less so.

Sometimes we just have to alter how we communicate with people we have conflict with by communicating in a healthy manner and bridging those relationships.

There are a lot of “difficult” people who are just waiting on someone to actually care about and invest in them. Be that type of leader today, Competitor.

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