7 Ways to Deal with Difficult People & Uncomfortable Conversations
Have you ever had to deal with someone who got on your last damn nerve?
I bet you’re thinking about someone riiigghhhtt now.
Do you have to deal with people like this on a daily basis? Welcome to the club, love.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to totally avoid difficult people.
They’re going to be in your social circles, your workplace, and even in your family.
In order to maintain harmonious relationships, protect your peace, and (if you have a Leo temper like me) stay out of jail, here are 10 strategies for dealing with difficult people:
1. Stay Calm, Cool, & Collected
****I know it’s easier said than done, but no matter how much a person drives you crazy, you can’t lose control.
Self-awareness is crucial because in order to stay calm, cool, and collected you need to understand your triggers and the techniques that work best for you when managing emotions.
Common strategies like counting to ten, visualizing something peaceful, or reciting affirmations to manage controversial situations don’t always work for everyone. You have to figure out your own way of relieving stress and staying calm.
2. Kill em with Kindness
Difficult people don’t always know they’re being annoying or difficult. It’s not like they’re out plotting to ruin our lives (I mean some of them might be…).
They may not be aware at all that they are penetrating your peace and monopolizing your precious time.
So, when dealing with people like this, it’s best to assume they have good intentions. Be patient and forgiving. It’s not easy, but try to imagine the struggle they’re having and perhaps put yourself in their shoes.
Empathy. That’s what will likely save society from itself.
3. Identify the Hidden Need
Oftentimes, when someone is being difficult, it’s because of some unmet need below the surface.
We’re not obligated to be mind readers or wish-granting genies, but if we can uncover what a difficult person “really” wants, we may be able to minimize the time, energy, and attention spent dealing with this person in a roundabout way.
It’s possible that what they want has nothing to do with you, but if you can figure out what’s needed, provide a solution, and defuse the situation, wouldn’t that be ideal?
4. Lend a Listening Ear
Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them- plain and simple. Now I know I talk a lot about reclaiming your T.E.A. and establishing boundaries so what I’m about to suggest may sound counterproductive to that but hear me out.
Take a moment to listen to the difficult person without judgment or discontent. Show them some empathy.
This alone could be enough to get the person to see you as an ally and someone who cares. You give them your undivided attention for a half hour or so, you may be saving yourself months of not having to hear said person complain or bother you.
5. Ask Clarifying Questions
Don’t pretend you understand just to get rid of someone. This will likely cause more problems ahead.
Instead, ask questions to clarify. This goes hand-in-hand with numbers 3 and 4.
If you’re in the middle of a conflict, asking open-ended questions can uncover what’s lying underneath the undesirable behavior. It can also help the person you’re talking to better articulate what’s on their mind.
6. Seek Support
If possible, talk to colleagues or others who have dealt with this person in the past to get some perspective. There’s a good chance others feel exactly the same way you do, but they may already understand the behavior or have a tactic for dealing with that person. It’s important to understand that this does NOT mean gossip to people you “think” may dislike the person you’re having issues with. The goal is not to invite more people in to waste your T.E.A. and that’s exactly what gossip will do.
7. Be Direct, Honest, & To-the-Point
Talk to the person privately when you’re in a calm, patient frame of mind. Be direct with your words, don’t beat around the bush, and don’t sugarcoat anything.
Believe it or not, people respect when you simply “keep it real” with them. Admit when and if you’re at fault or if a misunderstanding has occurred.
Get better at saying “no” and turning down opportunities that will bring you into contact with difficult people. This is where boundaries come into play. Sometimes, our natural inability to say no is the cause of conflict in the first place.
Once you’ve figured out the most effective strategies for dealing with a difficult person, take note of what worked and what didn’t. Examine what worked in some situations, but not in others. There’s a good chance you’ll run into a difficult person like this again in the future, so be ready.
In Module 2 of the CONQUER Your Chaos Crash Course I discuss Overcoming Your Overwhelm by establishing strong, healthy, non-negotiable boundaries with the people in your life.
If you’ve been struggling to establish boundaries and these lack of boundaries is resulting in stress and frustration, I highly recommend enrolling in the CONQUER Your Chaos Crash Course today.
It’s time to take control.