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7 Steps To Understanding Yourself That Makes Dealing With Difficult People Easier

7 Steps To Understanding Yourself That Makes Dealing With Difficult People Easier

Can you think of a time where you were fuming because you seriously just could NOT handle dealing with difficult people anymore?

It can be frustrating to deal with difficult people. It can test our patience and our limits. When a person is purposely being difficult and pushing your buttons, it may seem almost impossible not to blow up and put them in their place.

But today I wanted to share with you an invitation to let go.

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After reading Byron Katie’s book “Loving What Is” when I was getting my coaching training, it seriously transformed the way I look at conflicts and how I feel about them. In this post, I’m going to show you how understanding yourself makes it easier to deal with “difficult people.”

Although I have the practical business and marketing expertise, I have Life Coach training as well and have always placed very high value on personal development and self-discovery (that’s also a part of why I call myself a Holistic Business Coach). I believe it’s crucial to spend time learning and exploring who you are in order to become successful in your business. I do this process with my clients sometimes when they need it or direct them to the book for private exploration.

It’s life-changing.

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Step 1. Write down what’s annoying you about someone

Take out a piece of paper and write about the person that’s being difficult or annoying to you. Write in full sentences and in a way that really shows how you feel about it. For example, “Katie is really frustrating, she never cleans the apartment! She’s so lazy!” Be brutally honest with yourself when you do this – no one will see this piece of paper and the more truthful you are during this exercise, the better this Work will hep you.

Step 2. Ask yourself “Is this true?”

Then take it sentence by sentence and run each sentence you wrote through a series of questions below. For example, for the question “Katie never cleans the apartment” – ask yourself “Is this true?” See what comes up for you.

Step 3. Ask yourself “Can I absolutely know that it’s true?”

If you’re really frustrated with yourself, the answer that might come up to the previous question might be “Yes.” When that happens, ask yourself “Can I absolutely know that it’s true?” because you have to be completely 100% sure that what you are stating is, in fact, reality. Does Katie really never clean the apartment? Has she never cleaned an apartment? Not at all? Is it still a no? Well, how would you know? Do you monitor what Katie does 24/7? Chances are, that’s a no. So there’s a chance that the answer to this question is actually “No” because you cannot be 100% sure that she never cleans. She might clean sometimes when you’re not home. Who knows.

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Step 4. Recognize how you react when you think that thought

Think the original negative thought. “Katie never cleans the apartment” – Agh, how frustrating is this!? Recognize how you react when you think this thought. Do you react with frustration, anger, resentment, something else? Recognize it. Verbalize it so it really creates that impact on you.

Step 5. Ask yourself “Who or What would I be without the thought?”

This question is really important. Ask yourself how you would go through life if you were unable to think the thought “Katie never cleans the apartment” in the presence of Katie or ever. Would you feel more peaceful? More relaxed? How would you be in her presence without this thought? Would you be friendlier and happier and actually able to enjoy her presence rather than focusing on the fact she hasn’t cleaned? Most likely it’s a Yes. This question and inquiry makes you realize that the only reason why you see the person as “difficult” or frustrating is because of your own thought about it. Not about what the person has actually done – it’s your thought around it that makes you feel this way.

Step 6. Can you see a reason to drop the thought?

Since the thought is what causes all the negative feelings inside of you, can you see a stress-free reason to not actually have the thought? It’s important that you know that you can’t actually drop a thought. You can’t make that happen. But once you recognize that the thought is no longer necessary and you recognize all the things around it, the thought may float away on its own.

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Step 7. Turn the statement around

After you’ve done the inquiry it’s time to turn the statement around. Replace the name of the person in the statement with “you.” You’re basically turning the statement around to be about you. So “Katie never cleans the apartment” becomes “I never clean the apartment.” Think whether the new statement sounds as true or truer to you than the original statement you wrote.

Some eye opening a-ha moments may ensue!

Just spend the time and really do this and inquire within. Also, make sure you don’t just skip forward to the last statement, you have to do the questions first in order for this to truly make a positive effect. Hope this helps!

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Featured photo credit: joltevic via morguefile.com

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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