“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
Have you ever had to deal with difficult people? Take a moment and think of someone you have a hard time talking and getting on with. Perhaps there’s a person on the outskirts of your life that you can’t stand the thought of being stuck in the same room with?
Perhaps, there’s someone who’s continually grinding your gears, and you can’t seem to let go of anger and resentment; you feel as if you are a captive of the circumstances.
I have been stuck in many situations where someone has been considered ‘wildly difficult,’ myself included. And I have to admit – it can make the fabric of normal life a bit frustrating. But here’s a kicker, once you understand the root of ‘difficulty,’ you can find a remedial strategy to help the situation.
What Makes People Difficult to Get Along With?
Difficult or ‘Different’?
Those people that we tagged as ‘difficult’ only appear to be so because they behave differently to us – perhaps, even, in a manner that we may perceive as unacceptable.
1) Control Freaks. These types of individuals will frustrate you by continually interfering when you want nothing but to be left alone to execute things your way.
2) Perfectionists – could be particularly annoying when you want a quick result; if you are a perfectionist, make no mistake, you will infuriate a lot of people who think that ‘good enough’ is fine and makes perfect economic sense.
3) Aggressive or defensive types – something tells me that few people welcome aggression in business and life; people who are defensive about virtually everything also present a myriad of problems; we tend to lean closer towards assertive people, naturally.
4) Submissive people – this behavior can be a byproduct of many things, not excluding turbulent childhood experiences and a constant feeling of being threatened. Their lack of confidence and perpetual fear of failure can be frustrating at times.
5) Creative people – creative people are incredible when it comes to driving processes, they are a must when ideas are crucial for moving forward but can be painful when you just want to get on with delivering a simple result.
These examples are incomplete, yet caused by a host of a variety of things, and that makes all of us different. And, potentially, that makes all of us difficult in other people’s eyes. This brings us to the point that we need to understand enough about ourselves and other people to reshuffle what we can reasonably hope to change and what we should find a way of dealing / living with.
Understand that everyone behaves differently to you.
Accepting That We Are ALL Different Could Be Tricky, Yet Worth It
It’s easy to get carried away with anger and resentment towards difficult people we have to deal with, yet when we choose to interrupt this outburst of emotions when we take a pause and reframe, the new avenue of solutions could be suddenly discovered.
What we perceive as ‘difficult’ could just mean ‘different,’ and this little secret is incredibly helpful when it comes to understanding people; so that we can accept some differences before deciding what is unacceptable and has to be changed.
“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” – Eckhart Tolle
In my case, I have a COLD safety mechanism that just cuts ties with people, places, situations, including the relatives when toxicity levels are through the roof. Whenever this ‘learning opportunity’ arises, I take a seat as an observer, trying to figure out what lesson is being unfolded right before me. No judgments, no attachments – just observing, wishing them well, thanking them for the learning opportunity, then letting go.
Step into their shoes to see from their perspective. Ask yourself “What’s their agenda or what’s in it for them?” They might be going through a hard time in their life and just projecting their pain by being difficult, so compassion from you can go along way too. You might be wrong yourself but are too proud to admit it. Saying sorry or standing down will disarm and soften your opponent. Ask yourself “By locking horns with this person, how beneficial is it in the long term and is it worth it?” Always seek a win-win. If someone loses, then we all lose.
“Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.” – Shirley MacLaine
Try to minimise negativity in life as much as you can – that includes difficult people. When you are in a difficult situation in life or business, first of all, you have to get to the bottom of the problem – what is it that’s making them upset, what is it that they are feeling and why? It’s only when you dissect the problem that you can start to understand how to solve it. Once you unpick their problem, you can see how you can fix it and find a solution to a better route out so that everyone is happy.
Always try to be the bigger person and remember to trust your instincts. If what’s being said feels wrong it probably is. Kindness goes a long way, so pick your words carefully if you don’t want a confrontation. That being said, sometimes things need to be said, but if they do it’s important to maintain not just your dignity but theirs too. Difficult conversations can be tough but can often be necessary. Listen actively, and maybe you will get to the heart of the problem.
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer
When dealing with difficult people I always follow 3 rules:
1) I start with myself. Why do I feel they are difficult? What is triggering me? Self-reflection is the nr 1 key to growth.
2) Creating strong boundaries. It’s important to understand where your “pain point” is, and to make sure they don’t cross it. Sadly, that sometimes includes unfriending them.
3) Listening to them and asking them if they are ok – usually only unhappy people are difficult.
“You don’t have to accept things you are not okay with.” Never let the way ‘they are’ affect what you think of yourself. If that makes sense? And after an encounter with a difficult person “let it go.” That festering feeling after battling with a difficult person is so consuming. I have a great meditation mantra which goes “I allow myself to release the part of me that angers me when I think of you” repeating this and staying calm has done me WONDERS!
“The difficult people who we encounter can be our greatest teachers.” ― Eileen Anglin
Try to let go of the urge to sweep problems with difficult people under the rug and resolve them early on. Follow what you think is fair in that given situation and stay calm when arguing your point if you can’t agree, find what their true motivation is behind being difficult (usually there is a fear behind it) and press on that.
Give yourself permission to take a break from dealing with them (difficult people). Then take a deep breath, figure out how you want to respond, and remember that no matter what they do, you have the power to choose how you’re going to feel and respond. My advice is to be true to yourself while being as professional as possible until someone crosses the line.
More often than not difficult people are going through some serious challenges that cause them massive amounts of in pain. No, we can’t change or fix them, but we are always in charge of how we choose to respond to them.