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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 April 8, 2020

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

We all know some overachievers: supermoms who manage to get online degrees between cleaning, cooking, and taking kids to practice; students who write 10-page papers when the directions call for 4; managers whose resumes look more like pages from the Guinness book of Records.

How do they do it all? How is it possible that one person can graduate at the top of their class, found an orphanage in India, run 30k marathons, write a best-selling book, travel all over the world and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese while having a full-time job?

What’s the secret of an overachiever? Here’re 11 things overachievers do differently that you can learn from.

1. They Know How to Manage Their Time

It’s pretty simple actually – you can never become an overachiever if you don’t know how to organize your time efficiently.

The great thing is that overachievers are ready to share their knowledge and time management talent with the rest of the world. Read The 4-Hour Workweek or The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

2. They Don’t Spend Hours Watching TV or Playing Computer Games

Mostly because they have better things to do, like exercising, reading, spending an evening with their family or volunteering to work in the local soup kitchen. Their philosophy is simple – the world is full of wonderful things to try, explore and experience. Watching TV is not one of them.

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3. They Are Obsessed With Perfection

Imagine Steve Jobs’ work approach and you’ll understand the level of perfection and painfully high standards that overachievers set for themselves and those around them. Often it pays off (especially if they focus on just one domain). But sometimes compulsive over-striving turns into a sure-fire road to disappointments and unfinished tasks.

Learn how to strike a balance: How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up

4. They Know How To Inspire

Overachievers learn quickly that it is much easier to achieve goals through collaboration (and especially delegation). So they know how to inspire, encourage, persuade and motivate people around them. Even though they often drive their team crazy with their stubbornness and perfectionism, people quickly follow under the spell of their enthusiasm and greater vision.

Learn these 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively.

5. They Set Clear Goals

The term “overachiever” itself implies that they know how to achieve goals. That is kind of hard to do if your goals are vague, unclear and lack specific deadline, which is why overachievers educate themselves, read goal-setting books, and think about the best way to approach a new task.

Although, it’s worth mentioning that overachievers usually use their time management and goal-setting skills towards competitive, “I want to kick butt” type of goals rather than self-improvement, mastery goals.

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Take a look at these tips to help you set clearer goals: What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

6. They Are Organized

It’s hard to imagine a disorganized overachiever, isn’t it? Their great organizational and planning skills usually serve three main purposes: keeping track of time, keeping track of progress and keeping track of achievements.

This hasn’t been confirmed by scientific research yet, but overachievers might actually get a “runner’s high” from crossing tasks off their to-do lists, and making new to-do lists.

Here’s How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

7. They Try to Avoid Failure at All Costs

Some psychologists believe that overachievers place their self-worth on their competence, driven by an underlying fear of failure. Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their core motivation becomes avoiding failure. This may explain the fact that overachiever beat themselves up for even little setbacks and seemingly-insignificant mistakes.

But be aware that having a strong fear of failure can wrek havoc your productivity. So the best thing to do? Learn to conquer the fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It)

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8. They Love Awards

Who doesn’t love them, right? True enough, but unlike most people who like to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, overachievers are bent on collecting ‘awards’, be it university degrees, spelling bee prizes or unusual destinations.

While loving awares isn’t bad, it’s even better if you’re driven by internal motivation instead of external ones which could be quite uncontrolable or unstable: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It).

9. They Don’t Understand the Concept of Work Hours

Don’t get surprised if you receive a work-related email anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight. It’s something overachievers usually do and you weren’t the only one. At least 20 more emails have been sent during these hours to other people. The concepts of over-achieving and working overtime usually go hand in hand.

The downside of this is an imbalnced life, which may need to problems in other aspects of life including health and relationships. A better way is to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance.

10. They Rest

Overachievers might often be labeled as “workaholics”, because they often ignore bodily signs of hunger, fatigue and even a full bladder, hoping to finish just one last little part. This doesn’t mean that overachievers don’t know how to disconnect and relax.

True that they tend to work in the highest gear, but they also have enough sense to give themselves time to rest and recharge. Of course, they do it in their own overachieving way, preferring climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hiking through the Amazon jungle to lazing on the beach.

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11. Overachievers Continuously Educate Themselves

A great quality that most overachievers have is the hunger for knowledge. They surround themselves with bright people. They know how to listen, and most importantly, they get tons of mentoring.

Despite the fact that overachievers want to excel at everything they set their minds on, they are humble enough to admit that to get on top of their game, they need help. And they are willing to pay someone to push, coach and guide them.

You too can learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

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Featured photo credit: Nghia Le via unsplash.com

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