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4 Secrets to Getting Along With Difficult People

4 Secrets to Getting Along With Difficult People

We all have difficult people in our lives. You know—the ones you dread talking to; the ones you try to avoid at all costs. They may be your ex-spouse, a co-worker, or a family member; they may be a bully, a control freak, passive-aggressive or someone who loves to play the role of victim.

So, how do we deal with these people? How can we work together productively, whether in a parenting, a working, or a family relationship?

Here are a few secrets to being able to keep your cool when dealing with that difficult person in your life:

1. Know Your Triggers

Self-knowledge is powerful.

We all have subjects and idiosyncrasies that push our buttons, and I can almost guarantee that the difficult person in your life knows what those are—but do you? Spend some time exploring what really ticks you off. Is it when somebody talks about politics, money, or your family? Is it when your ex takes your kids to McDonald’s 3 days in a row?

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Once you have your list of those trigger buttons, you are ready to arm yourself.

Create a plan. What will you do when the conversation steers dangerously close to one of your buttons?

You can practice deep breathing, take a short time-out, walk away from the conversation, or any combination of the three. Whatever allows you to center yourself and regain your focus on the purpose of the conversation will work.

2. The STOP Phrases

If you are having a conversation with a difficult person and you just want it to end, these phrases seem to do the trick (or at least take the wind out of the other person’s sails).

Sorry you feel that way.”

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That’s your opinion.”

Oh.”

Perhaps you’re right.”

If you just repeat these phrases over and over during the conversation, eventually the other person will give up trying to get you to join the argument.

3. Resist the Temptation to get Sucked In

Difficult people want to engage you: don’t fall for that trap. Listen to what you’re saying: are you trying to justify, argue, defend, or explain your position? If you are, stop. If you don’t, the conversation will just continue to go around in circles. You will never change the mind of a difficult person—otherwise you probably wouldn’t be seeing them as “difficult.”

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4. The Big One

While the 3 secrets above can help you to avoid or get out of an uncomfortable conversation with a difficult person, there is one secret that can truly change your relationship with that person in your life: that secret is, that they are human, and are dealing with their own issues and their own crap that they’re bringing to the table.

Their difficult behaviors are benefiting them in some way that helps them deal with those issues, and most of the time their behavior has nothing to do with you.

A person might feel more secure when they are bullying someone or controlling others, or they might feel a sense of importance when they’re getting a lot of attention—even negative attention. They might try to gain a sense of belonging by playing the victim and getting others to help them, or someone who’s inflicting hurt and provoking hostility might be trying to protect his own sense of identity.

If we take the time to figure out what unconscious beliefs may be behind someone’s difficult behavior, we may be able to change our interaction with them and improve our relationship. Once you figure out what may be driving their behavior, you can begin to try different ways to help them get their emotional needs met without resorting to that behavior any longer.

The main idea here is to tap into your empathy pool and realize that the person you see as the bane of your existence is just another human being trying to get along as best they can.

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A Final Thought

Yes, sometimes we have to disengage in order to save our sanity, but keep in mind that everybody is doing the best they can with the emotional tools they have at their disposal. It is possible to get past our reactions to their difficult behaviors so that we may be able to do our part in building a calmer, more productive relationship, and in the end, this is all we can truly control—our own reactions.

You never know—one day, you may actually look forward to seeing these people.

Featured photo credit:  Businessman determined to tackle challenges via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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