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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 August 16, 2018

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get comfortable with discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See failure as a teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take baby steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

6. Hang out with risk takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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