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Dealing with Difficult People

Have you ever had to deal with a difficult person? I am guessing that the answer is probably “yes”!  The question should really be; have you managed to get the best out of that person or have you demonised them? Have you written them off as “impossible”? Here are a few tips about dealing with difficult people.

1. You can’t change other people

You can only change yourself and sometimes by changing your own behaviour, you will get a different behaviour from the other person. All relationships are two-way, some people are easier to get on with than other, but you are responsible for how you deal with the relationship.  Eleanor Roosevelt said “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”.  How you feel about the other persons behaviour is entirely up to you.  Think about it, it could upset you or you could find it interesting.

2. If something is not working, do something different!

Why is it that we do the same thing, over and over again and expect different results? Think of the stereotypical English man abroad, when he is not understood by the “foreigners”, he repeats what he says in the first place, but louder! We are good at banging our head on the wall. The way you normally communicate with people may be working successfully for 70% of the time, but if it is not working for that “difficult” person, you need to be flexible. You need to adapt your own behaviour to get better results!

3. You are not a mind reader

We are good at assuming that someone’s behaviour means a certain thing, but we are only looking at things from our own viewpoint. If someone doesn’t respond to your email are they ignoring you, or are they just busy?  Does it necessarily mean that if someone is continuously late that they have no respect for you, or could it be that they are less aware of the time? If your boss forwards your email to someone else to deal with, is he trying to make you feel small or has he got other things on his mind? Have you asked the person or are you just assuming?

4. Find someone who does get on with the difficult person and watch them carefully to see what they do right.

That person has found a way to communicate with the “awkward” person that works, watch and listen to see what they are doing that is different from the way you do things.  Try doing some of the things they do and see what happens.  When you get good responses from that person, think about what you did that got the type of response you want. Do more of the it!

5. Listen to the language the person uses

We assume that since we are both speaking English that we are speaking the same language, but we all see the world very differently.  Some people are more visually focussed, others are more auditory and others may be more kinesthetic orientated.  People give away clues in the language they use about how they make sense of the world.  There is a good chance that your “difficult” person may have a different system from you.  Are you a seeing, hearing or feeling person?   What are they? 

Remember you can’t change the difficult person, you can only change yourself.  Sometimes when we change our behaviour we are able to build a better relationship which ultimately, will make you feel better.

In my next blog, I will go through some of the reasons you may not being getting on with someone, that you may not be aware of yet!