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How to Deal with Difficult People

How to Deal with Difficult People

You know the type. It’s the co-worker who seems like she’s out to get you. Or maybe it’s the family member who is just impossible to get along with.

In figuring out how to deal with difficult people in your life, you need to make subtle changes to your thought patterns and incorporate a plan for action. While you can’t completely eliminate all difficult people from your life, you can minimize the impact they have. By incorporating these tips, you can really improve your chances of having a good encounter with an otherwise difficult person.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

The first thing you need to do in dealing with difficult people is incorporate a change in your thinking.

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Doing this can be tough because many of us feel angry ourselves when someone directs hurtful words at us. But, it’s not about you. It’s about them and their reality. You can’t change their thinking, but you can change yours. People often say things when they’re angry that they don’t really mean and you might just happen to be in the right place at the wrong time – and you get the brunt of their anger or outbursts. Let it roll off if you can.

Breathe and Stay Calm

When you’re confronted with someone who might be angry or sullen, one of the best things you can do is don’t contribute to the other person’s anger by escalating it with your own. Step back for a moment. Remember the number 10: count to 10 and take 10 deep breaths. Then address the situation. You can manage a difficult encounter much more effectively in a calm state of mind. Furthermore, if the other person sees you panicking or otherwise reacting to their words or actions, it can cause the entire situation to get out of control.

Understand and Communicate

Often, difficult people just want to be heard. Let them have their say and then respond with empathy. Use phrases like, “I am sorry you feel that way,” or “I can understand your situation and I sympathize.” The idea is just to listen. By doing so, you can open the doors of trust and communication. In effect, you enable yourself to look at the issue through their eyes and change your point of view.

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Separate the Person From Their Issues

Sometimes when we have to cope with people who seem impossible, it’s important to remember that they are not their issues. People have issues, but people themselves are not issues. Difficult people have mothers and fathers and friends who have liked or even loved them for who they are. Separating the two can help you to focus on the issue at hand and not on the person him or herself.

The second step in handling challenging people is making a plan of action for yourself.

Display Confidence But Not Rudeness

If you’re at work and your coworker is challenging your point of view, be ready with concrete evidence to support your perspective. If she questions your reasons for changing a policy, tell her your main reasons for doing so. But don’t ramble on. Get straight to the point so that your coworker doesn’t have time to pick through what you’ve said and conjure up even more reasons to challenge you.

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Use “I” Statements

Just because you deal with people who are difficult to manage, doesn’t mean they can walk all over you. State your opinion and feelings, but do it in a way that doesn’t put the other person on the defense. Use statements like, “I feel bad when you talk to me that way,” or “I don’t understand why our finances have to be so difficult.”  Be sure to start each statement with “I,” then your feelings, followed by either what the other person is doing or what the situation actually is.

Go On the Offense

You might feel like defending yourself when a difficult person challenges you. Instead of going on the defense, try the offense. When you get a question like, “Why are you designing the presentation like that?” you can respond with, “What would be your approach?  Why would you do it differently?” Then, hear them out and work to a compromise.

Choose Your Battles

Sometimes those impossible people in our lives know just how to push our buttons. They might purposely say something because they know it will get to you. A question like “Why did you wear that?” can easily make your blood boil. But, ask yourself if it’s worth the ensuing argument. Does it really matter? This person will tire of trying to get you aroused once they realize they can’t get to you.

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Enlist a Neutral Party

Sometimes, even if we’ve tried all these tactics, a situation cannot resolve itself. You can enlist a neutral third person into the conversation. He or she can listen to both sides and help each person gain a new perspective and help to mediate. This can be another coworker, your boss, or even a counselor.

Some Final Thoughts

It takes a little time and patience to change your thinking and develop a plan of action to help you deal with challenging people. Just remember, most difficult people have their own thoughts and problems and while they may be projecting them on to you, you don’t have to be a victim. Change your mindset, implement a plan and make difficult people become manageable.

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Cyndi Calhoun

Cyndi is a passionate writer who writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on May 17, 2019

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

The pursuit of worthwhile goals is a part of what makes life enjoyable. Being able to set a goal, then see yourself progress towards achieving that goal is an amazing feeling.

But do you know the biggest obstacle for most people trying to achieve their goals, the silent dream killer that stops people before they ever even get started? That obstacle is the comfort zone, and getting stuck there is bound to derail any efforts you make towards achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

If you want to achieve those goals, you’ll have to break free from your comfort zone. Let’s take a look at how your life will change once you build up the courage to leave your comfort zone.

What Is the Comfort Zone?

The comfort zone is defined as “a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.”

What stands out to me the most about that definition is the last part: “using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.” How many successful people do you know who deliver a steady level of performance?

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The goal in life is to continually challenge yourself, and continually improve yourself. And in order to do that, you have move out of your comfort zone. But once you do, your life will start to change in ways you could never have imagined. I know because it’s happening right now in my own life.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. You will be scared

Leaving your comfort zone isn’t easy. In fact, in can be downright terrifying at times, and that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little trepidation when you’re embarking on a journey that forces you to try new things.

So don’t freak out or get overwhelmed when you feel yourself getting a little scared. It’s perfectly normal and all part of the process. What’s important is that you don’t let that fear hold you back. You must continue to take action in the face of fear.

That’s what separates winners from losers.

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2. You will fail

Stepping out of your comfort zone means you’re moving into uncharted territory. You’re trying things that you’ve never tried before, and learning things you’ve never learned before.

That steep learning curve means you’re not going to get everything right the first time, and you will eventually fail when you move out of your comfort zone. But as long as the failures aren’t catastrophic, it can actually be a good thing to fail because …

3. You will learn

Failure is the best teacher. I’ve learned more from each one of my failures than I have from each one of my successes. When you fail small, and fail often, you rapidly increase the rate at which you learn new insights and skills. And that new knowledge, if applied correctly, will eventually lead to your success.

4. You will see yourself in a different way

Once you move out of your comfort zone, you immediately prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving more than you thought was possible. And that will change the way you see yourself.

Moving forward, you’ll have more confidence in yourself whenever you step out of your comfort zone, and that increased confidence will make it more likely that you continue to step outside your comfort zone. And each time you do, you’ll prove to yourself again and again what you’re really capable of.

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5. Your peers will see you in a different way

Whether we want to admit or not, people judge other people. And right now, people view you in a certain way, and they have a certain idea of what you’re capable of. That’s because they’ve become accustomed to seeing you operate in your comfort zone.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you’ll prove to other people, as well, that you’re capable of much more than you’ve shown in the past.

The increased confidence other people place in you will bring about more opportunities than ever before.

6. Your comfort zone will expand

The good thing about the comfort zone is that it’s flexible and malleable. With each action you take outside of your comfort zone, it expands. And once you master that new skill or action, it eventually becomes part of your comfort zone.

This is great news for you because it means that you can constantly increase and improve upon the behaviors that you’re comfortable with. And the more tools and skills you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.

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7. You will increase your concentration and focus

When you’re living inside of your comfort zone, the bulk of your actions are habitual: automatic, subconscious, and requiring limited focus.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you no longer rely on those habitual responses. You’re forced to concentrate and focus on the new action in a way you never do in your comfort zone.

8. You will develop new skills

Moving out of your comfort zone requires that you develop new skills. One of the many benefits you’ll experience is that you’ll be stepping away from the “limited set of behaviors” and start to develop your ability and expertise in new areas.

Living inside of your comfort zone only requires a limited skill set, and those skills won’t contribute much to your success. Once you can confidently step outside of your comfort zone and learn a new skill, there’s no limit to how much you can achieve.

9. You will achieve more than before

With everything that happens once you move out of your comfort zone, you’re naturally going to achieve more than ever before.

Your increased concentration and focus will help you develop new skills. Those new skills will change the way you see yourself, encouraging you to step even further out of your comfort zone.

Featured photo credit: Josef Grunig via farm3.staticflickr.com

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