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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 20, 2018

60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

Sometimes it’s easier to focus on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. It’s important to take time out and remember all of the things to be thankful for that many of us take for granted.

    Here you’ll find 60 very solid things to be thankful for in your everyday life. These are great reminders for you to treasure everything you have.

    1. Good Health

    Even if you’re health isn’t great, it could be worse and you likely still have some working parts to be thankful for.

    2. Money in the Bank

    Having just a few coins makes you richer than most people on Earth.

    3. Good Friends

    Often, it’s the quality of friendships, not the quantity.

    4. Freedom of Religion

    Being able to worship whomever and however you want is something many people don’t ever experience.

    5. Your Parents

    Even if they’re dysfunctional, they gave you life.

    6. Weekends

    There’s something magical about weekends.

    7.Having a Partner

    Being in a romantic relationship can teach you so much about the world and yourself.

    8. Pets

    Pets offer one of the best examples of unconditional love.

    9. Learning from Mistakes

    If we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

    10. Opportunity to Get an Education

    The opportunity to attend school is something many people don’t have.

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    11. Having a Home

    Whether you live in an apartment, a mansion, or a tent, having a place to call home is something to be thankful for.

    12. An Ability to Read

    If you’re reading this right now, you have a lot to be thankful for.

    13. Breathing Fresh Air

    Being able to step outside to breathe in fresh air is a good reminder how many little things we should be thankful for.

    14. A Bed to Sleep

    A bed is one of those things that’s easy to take for granted, until you don’t have one.

    15. Laughter

    Without laughter, the world would be a sad place.

    16. Safety and Security

    Being able to wake up without immense fear frees us up to really live life.

    17. Cars

    Without cars, it would take a lot longer to get our activities done.

    18. Sunshine

    The sun’s warmth can brighten any day.

    19. Time

    Although we often don’t think there’s enough of it, time is something we shouldn’t take for granted.

    20. Clean Water

    Many people on earth lack access to clean water.

    21. Cell Phones

    Cell phones make talking to loved ones easy.

    22. Love

    The world sure would be a different place if we lacked the ability to love.

    23. Books

    Books provide an opportunity to enter another world all from the comfort of your own home.

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    24. Kindness of Strangers

    Never take the kindness of a stranger for granted.

    25. Campfires

    The simplicity of a campfire creates lifelong memories.

    26. Pain

    Without pain, it would be difficulty to appreciate life’s joys.

    27. Art

    The world would be less beautiful if art didn’t exist.

    28. Holidays

    Any reason to celebrate is something we should be thankful for.

    29. Freedom of Speech

    Being able to express your thoughts and feelings freely should never be taken for granted.

    30. Rainbows

    The beauty of a rainbow is unmatched.

    31. Tears

    Sometimes when there are no words to say, tears express how we feel for us.

    32. Waking up Today

    Simply waking up today means you have things to be thankful for.

    33. Indoor Plumbing

    Indoor plumbing not only provides convenience, it spares us from disease.

    34. Wisdom that Comes with Age

    Thankfully, we grow smarter over time.

    35. Mountains

    Mountains provide us with beauty and recreation.

    36. Eyesight

    Being able to see allows us to view the world’s beauty.

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    37. Grocery Stores

    Grocery stores mean we don’t have to spend all of our time getting our own food.

    38. Sunsets

    Sunsets are a reminder that we should enjoy the simple things in life.

    39. Entertainment

    Entertainment gives us a way to relax and enjoy life.

    40. Your Mind

    Being able to think, remember, and solve problems sure makes life easier.

    41. Employment

    Even if you don’t like your job, being employed means someone thought you were special enough to hire.

    42. Diversity

    The world would be a boring place without diversity.

    43. Moon and Stars

    The moon and stars encourage us to dream.

    44. Electricity

    Electricity makes most of our chores efficient.

    45. Air Conditioning

    Staying cool on a hot day is something people wouldn’t have dreamed about in past centuries.

    46. Hearing

    Being able to hear your loved one’s voice is something that not everyone gets to do.

    47. Children

    Watching children laugh, grow, and dream can keep things in perspective.

    48. Ability to Learn

    The ability to learn new things means we have endless potential.

    49. People Willing to Teach

    Whether it’s your grandmother teaching you to knit or your plumber showing you how to prevent future problems, be grateful that others are willing to use their time and talents to teach you something new.

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    50. Oceans

    The sea creatures in the ocean almost seem too mystical to be real.

    51. Modern Medicine

    Without advances in modern medicine, many of us wouldn’t be alive.

    52. Music

    Music brings out new emotions.

    53. Entrepreneurs

    Some of life’s best inventions resulted from an entrepreneur who was willing to take a risk.

    54. Warm Clothing

    On a cold day, there’s nothing more important than warm clothing.

    55. Freedom to Vote

    Being able to have a say in the laws should never be taken for granted.

    56. An Internet Connection

    It’s hard to believe how easy it is to take the internet for granted, seeing how none of us had just a couple of decades ago.

    57. Challenges

    Without challenges in life, we wouldn’t be the people we are now.

    58. Hiking Trails

    Hiking trails give us the chance to enjoy mother’s nature beauty.

    59. Vaccines

    Many of us wouldn’t be alive without today’s vaccinations.

    60. Armed Forces

    Our lives would likely be very different if we didn’t have protection from the armed forces.

    Realizing all the things you should be thankful for is the first step, practicing gratitude is what you should start doing:

    6 Ways To Implement More Gratitude In Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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