HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE


How to Deal With Difficult People

Difficult people are everywhere. Perhaps you too can be difficult. Many people go through periods where they don't act their best. If you want to maintain a relationship with a difficult person, you will need to develop some coping and negotiation strategies.



Methods:
Approaching a Difficult Person

1
Choose your battles wisely. When butting heads with a difficult person, decide when it is worth your efforts to discuss the problem.Not every fight needs to be fought. The sooner you realize this the happier your life will become. Ideally, you and this difficult person would be able to set aside your differences and compromise. Sometimes, this is impossible.
Ask yourself if the situation is causing you enough distress that it must be addressed.
Consider your relationship to this person. If it's your boss or another authority figure, you have to accept some things you don't like (unless it's abusive behavior).If it's a friend or family member, think about whether choosing not to engage is enabling bad behavior or simply saving you time and grief.
Can you even win this fight? You might really, really, want to take on someone that irks you. But you may have to size up the situation, and consider if it really is one that you can reach your goal. Or, the timing is bad. Or you may have to decide if you need to really formulate a plan, get help, or consider your options.

2
Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath before responding to collect your thoughts and calm your emotions. If your conflict is happening via email or texting, try to avoid sending digital text messages when upset. Take a bit of time to let your stress level decrease. Then you will be able to approach the person more reasonably.
If possible, discuss your issue somewhere neutral or in a place with an activity. For example, you could talk while walking. This can limit negative face-to-face interactions.

3
State your needs clearly with assertive communication. Don't give the person the opportunity to manipulate you or twist your words.Aim to use “I” statements rather than “you” accusations. For example:
”I understand that you are frustrated by my lateness. I would feel the same way. Unfortunately, the subway line was down this morning and we were stuck in the station. I am very sorry for making you wait!”
Do not say: “You are unreasonable for expecting me to be punctual when the subway system was broken down. If you really cared, you could have googled my line and checked.”

4
Continue being polite. No matter the response of the other person, keep your cool. Do not resort to name-calling. Take breaths before your responses. The key is to not let yourself sink to the other person’s level. Also, the calmer you remain, the more likely the other person will notice and reflect on his or her behavior.

5
Stick to the facts. Keep a short clear narrative that is not bogged down with too much detail or emotion. It is very possible you won’t be able to get the person to see your point of view and you don’t need to try to convince them. State what happened and don't feel you need to explain yourself.
Avoid trigger topics.For example, if you always fight about holidays with your sister-in-law, don’t discuss them! Have someone else do the mediating.
Avoid being defensive.You might want to argue your point but with difficult people, it is best to bypass these kinds of arguments. Do not waste your time trying to prove that you are right. Instead, keep the situation as neutral as possible.

6
Minimize your interactions. Although hopefully you can deal with your problem person, if not, limit your time with her. If you must interact, try to keep things short by excusing yourself from the conversation or bringing a third party into the conversation. Stay as positive as possible and make sure to calm down afterwards.
Accept that this person will likely never become the friend, colleague, or sibling you want.

7
Talk to allies. If you are not making headway with someone and need to do so, speak with a potential mediator. Perhaps your boss can help improve the situation. If your conflict is within the family, find a mutual party who can negotiate. Strive to share complaints only with people you trust.



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