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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!

Featured photo credit: joltevic via morguefile.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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