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How can I deal with difficult people?

The real secret on how to deal with difficult people is not dealing with them but understanding why they are difficult.  You may say “because they are a *#!^/” But there is always more going on than you may at first be aware of.

  1. Realise that it is highly likely that if someone is treating you badly, no matter how it may seem, they are probably treating most others that way. It probably isn’t personal to you. It always feels that way and even if you don’t see evidence of it straight away you can count on it that elsewhere in that person’s life someone is having similar difficulties. Distancing yourself a little and knowing you’re not alone may help when the going gets tough.
  2. Don’t just ignore the problem, often this head-in-the-sand approach causes more harm than good. Look for reasons why the person is acting troublesome. Are they under pressure at work? Do they have personal difficulties or have they had some private tragedies which has coloured their view or made them react extremely in an effort to protect themselves. Often behaviours don’t make sense at first but when you have the right frame of reference it all becomes clear.
  3. Don’t get your own back. As Gandhi said “an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”. Realistically you will get much more sympathy if you are above any mudslinging. Also no one likes a whinger, so be brave and answer distress with some wise saying like “diamonds are made under pressure”.
  4. It always takes two to make a problem, however difficult that may be to hear. Sometimes after exhausting all possibilities it may be that the only option left is to change yourself and your reaction to provocation or injustice. It is a hard truth that the thing which most exasperates us in others is often the thing we hate in ourselves. Be honest with yourself and see how you can improve your own actions by using the mirror of your enemies.Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”– Anon
  5. Concentrate on the positive aspects of that person (and say it to them) and two things will happen. One, they will feel less defensive and eventually give you less of a hard time. Two, you will shift your focus and see that there are positives which are much more productive to notice. Sir John Lubbock: What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
  6. Lastly, be the bigger person. Say sorry first, even if you weren’t wrong, you can be sorry that there was any trouble between you. You can be sorry there was hurt caused. Don’t get caught up in pride issues (goeth before a fall?). Words are things which can be thrown away and in their travels they can harm or heal. Which words will you choose?
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