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difficult dealings

Difficult People

Posted: February 27, 2017 at 2:16 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Dealing with Difficult People is one of those things most of us may find the last thing we want to have to deal with. As if dealing with every day challenges of going to work, paying bills, raising children, pursuing goals and the many other things we face every day isn’t enough.

Now maybe there are those who may have never dealt with a difficult person before. Now that would be something and I may need some tips from you, but most of us have at some point in our life. How did you deal with such a difficult person?

Did you choose to avoid confronting that person and just feel miserable every time you were around them? Did you speak up and let them know how you felt?

It can be a difficult situation considering who this difficult person may be. Are they a family member? a friend? coworker? colleague? or even worse a boss?

Consider that maybe even you find yourself uncomfortable around someone, maybe they are critical of everything you do and you brush it off, or they may even seem to always have something to say in opposition of what you say. You find yourself thinking “Why is this person constantly doing these things?” You may not have even considered that they are a difficult person, but these are some traits I consider to be a difficult person.

How do we deal with difficult people?

There are various ways to deal with difficult people. You’re probably thinking confronting this person and giving them a taste of their own medicine. Yet, sometimes this can be challenging depending on the relationship we have with this person. Imagine if it’s a coworker, you’re in a professional environment, and just arguing with this coworker at work may get you in trouble if not fired. It may be your boss. They are over your performance evaluation, they pay you and this may be an issue.

What about a family member? Most family members we love and care about their feelings. I know what your thinking “most”? Well we all have family members we just don’t get along with for whatever that reason may be, but that is for a different post. Yet it applies to dealing with difficult people. Most family members we don’t want to hurt their feelings but in most cases family has a love that is always there and can take constructive criticism, because they know it is coming from a good place.

How do we deal with difficult people already?

Ok, so lets get to the point. I consider before even confronting a situation with a difficult person to do what I call a “Self-Evaluation”. This may be harder than it sounds.

Step One: Self Evaluation

      • Take a step back and try not to think of any animosity towards this person
      • Think about “Am I looking at this the wrong way?”
        • Am I being defensive?
        • Do I not take constructive criticism well? and this person actually may not mean any harm by giving me such criticism?
        • Do I get annoyed easily?
        • Do I just assume this person has something against me?
        • Do I have any pre-judgments about this person from what I hear from other people? or even just my own?
        • There could be many questions you can ask yourself, but the goal of this step is to really look within yourself to see if maybe something you feel or self opinions you may have is causing you to feel this person is difficult.
      • Is this person treating others the same way or do I find they are always directing it towards me?
        • I suggest observing if this person treats others the same way. Has anyone ever mentioned difficult dealings with this person?
          • You can ask someone do they ever have any difficult dealings with this person. The way to do this without causing drama or giving the impression of gossip is to do what I call the “It’s me, play innocent” trick.

Step Two: The Approach

      • “It’s me, play innocent” tricks
        • Use of “I” and “someone” pronouns

Work Example

        • An example of this would be: You feel your boss/coworker is a difficult person towards you. Generally, at work, issues could be a very critical boss/coworker, it seems like they always point out flaws rather than even care to notice all the good work you’ve done.

Your goal is to see if other coworkers you get along with get this   same impression. Your conversation could start off as

          • “I get so upset with myself if I mess up” They may respond with “I feel you” or even give their opinion of the work you do, because believe me others notice. They may say “You’ve been doing a good job, and you work hard, I can tell. Don’t beat yourself up about it”

Your response “If someone makes mistakes around here does management seem to come down on them pretty hard?”

          • This response using “someone” and asking your question generally speaking in regards to the whole rather than specifically helps to reduce any feelings of directing it towards anyone in particular

Your coworkers would actually unknowingly respond with their experiences and maybe even mention people who you’ve had on your mind as being difficult.

It’s all in the way you ask questions and the relationships you have with coworkers. Smiling and asking in a jokingly rather not serious way helps to reduce tension and give the impression it’s just small talk. You’d be surprised what others may say.

If they do start gossiping and talking about how so and so is such a pain, don’t agree or start rabbling on about your situation. Just respond with “Really?”,” O wow”, “I didn’t realize that..” That way you are not directly saying anything that can come back and haunt you.

Always remember this “No matter how nice people seem at work or if they tell you the negative things about people and seem trustworthy because they are rabbling on and you think they trust you, keep your frustrations with people to yourself”

   Of course don’t go telling people what so and so said, but keep your true opinions to yourself and beat around the bush if they ask you what you think about someone. People will do this just to get something on you or they may be trying to get information out of you that can come back and haunt you. You never know.

Trust yourself.

Now of course this may not be for all cases. Some coworkers you may know personally and they are a friend and you know it stays between you. Yet generally, we become acquainted with coworkers.

The point is that by using “I” and scenarios about yourself and then asking a general question for the whole, helps to get answers you seek about if a particular person is truly a difficult person.

        • Family Member/Friend
          • Use of “I” and “Do you feel”

   Family members and friends we have a closer relationship with and have love for each other. Yet, people can be sensitive because we all in a sense do care what they think of us. Not to say that that should be the priority because we don’t always agree and you at the end of the day have to do what you feel is best for your life no matter what anyone thinks.

          • We can approach family members and friends directly technically but if this is not the case, asking other family members or friends who are around the difficult person can help to bridge that gap, before approaching the person.
          • NOTE: I always suggest when it comes to family members and friends to approach the person directly, because you have your own relationship dealings with them and sometimes other family members and friends just don’t need to know

            • Indirect approach
              • Meet with the family member/friend alone. Start off using a nice tone and complimenting them. If you have something you can compliment do so. Maybe bring up some good memories yall had or ask them for advice. “I’ve been having a hard time at work, this coworker is just difficult, you seem to always have some good advice, any suggestions?”  (Even if you feel they don’t have good advice, pretend. You are trying to not seem like on attack mode even though you may feel that way and it may be deserving)
              • Dependent on your relationship with this person and some of the traits you recognize, asking them their opinion about something that is not directed towards them, can help to ease the tension and even give a boost to their ego.
                • Once the conversation seems good. Say “I wanted to ask you, and I feel like I’m just taking it the wrong way, but I feel (….) when you (……)? I think I’m just feeling down because of ….(work, stress)…I don’t know”

You’re basically trying to make it seem like you are taking the blame in your thinking, even though yes we know we are not to blame. This technique takes self strength and self confidence to use, because you may feel like your blaming yourself but in actuality you are not attacking them directly so to speak. With a difficult person, most will be in self-denial about it and so just saying “You this…and You that” won’t solve the problem.

They will only get defensive. By asking them a question and saying I feel I’m taking this the wrong way, but I feel (and then give them the situation you had with them that seemed difficult or hurtful when they did or said whatever they said) but quickly implying “I think I’m just feeling down because of something else like work, stress, etc….” helps to directly tell them how you feel but gives other possible causes so they don’t feel like you are directly attacking them.

You may find that they think about that situation and explain themselves to you. You may understand or you may not. Gauge how to answer and what to say by how you feel, but don’t get argumentative. If they say “I said that because….” or “You did this….” just say “I see what you’re saying..” ..” I didn’t think of it that way” but respond with “but I felt or I thought…” and give your opinions to the matter. Hopefully in each other listening and trying to empathize with the other in a non-argumentative way helps to gain an understanding. Remember just because you say “I see what you’re saying…” doesn’t mean you agree, but it helps make them feel like you’re empathizing with them.

Yet importantly, you have to make sure you get your point across and say what you have to say. You have to get this off your chest for you or you will hold it in and feel miserable. If they don’t want to empathize with you even though you are trying to empathize with them or start just blaming you and not listening and talking over you. Just try to end the conversation nicely and leave it at that. You get that they are not ready to have a decent a conversation.

It may take time, they may think about it and come back to you to discuss this and maybe offer an apology about how they made you feel and that they didn’t mean to make you feel that way.

You may also realize that you may have took it the wrong way and find something in you that could use improvement. We all can learn from others and our dealings with them something about ourselves believe it or not

          • Direct Approach
            • I wanted to talk to you about something, I feel (….) when you (……)? I just wanted to know if I may be looking at it the wrong way? I know I can come to you directly rather than assume and I just wanted to let you know how I feel and if I did anything to make you feel a certain way towards me?

This is an approach for those most comfortable with a direct approach. Direct approach helps to get the point across and it doesn’t have to be in a rude way. You are simply asking a question and letting someone know how you feel.

Everyone can gauge and use common sense when confronting a difficult person. The situations vary and they may end up with an understanding or they may not. The best thing you can do is get it off your chest.

Don’t let it build up inside as I’m sure we have all done at one point in our life. Holding things in can cause stress, feeling miserable, depressed and other things. It’s not healthy for you mentally nor physically. There is nothing wrong with feeling how you feel and addressing things you feel needing to be addressed. It actually can be a relief, believe it or not. Sometimes we don’t recognize that our stress and feelings of misery or depression can be the product of someone or something that has been bothering us that we have not fully addressed.

Have you experienced dealing with a difficult person? How did you address the situation? We all have had different experiences and we all have different point of views when it comes to certain things. Sharing these experiences may help someone else through a rough time or inspire someone to gain the courage to get through a situation.


   Please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and experiences. I encourage a discussion as I don’t have all the answers but only my own experiences. We can all learn from each other and have words of wisdom to offer.

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