Successfully Dealing with Difficult People
Dealing with Different Personalities
Admit it. Whether it’s dealing with a bad boss, a difficult co-worker or an uncooperative ex, we’ve all found ourselves in situations of having to deal with someone who causes us stress. How do we handle it? Many times, not very well I’m afraid! What causes us to respond negatively to those who get under our skin? When we respond it’s called a reaction and every action has an opposite reaction. Notice I didn’t say equal because, when dealing with human emotions, many times we lose control and overreact.
What leads to this stress? More often than not we feel provoked. Sometimes it is justified. Some provoking personality types are bullies, short-tempered, judgmental, manipulative and sociopaths.
So, there are several different types of provoking personalities but all have the same approach. First, they play on your empathy to get your attention. Then comes the insult (true motive), which, initiates the feeling of being taken advantage (manipulation) and leads to anger (the negative response). Lastly, a display of innocent oblivion to why you are reacting in such a way leads to guilt and questioning of yourself! Then you find yourself frustrated, confused and then angry with yourself!
Unfortunately, we all deal with and have the potential to be any one of these people at any given moment. Because we all come into situations with different life experiences, we all have “buttons” that can be pushed under the right conditions. What may be a pet peeve or even serious issue to you may not be a big deal to someone else. I know it sounds cliché but it is much in how we perceive the situation and choose to respond.
According to psychologist Harriet Lerner, there are certain traits resulting from life experiences, that are harder than others to deal with such as refusal to listen, low self-esteem that cause one to put others down and quick defensiveness. Our own defenses lead us to avoid interaction with such beings as much as possible. When dealing with family members, a boss or co-worker it isn’t as easy. So, what do we do in those inevitable situations?
Here is a to-do-list to prepare you in advance.
1. Allow yourself time to evaluate the situation and the personality type you’re dealing with
2. Remind yourself of the setting you’re in (work, home etc.)
3. Be willing to listen to rational, respectful discussions only. Set aside time for later if a ‘cool down’ period is needed
4. Make it a rule that if things begin to turn hostile stop and make an agreement to continue after emotions calm.
5. Approach all interaction with the same respect you expect in return
Also, it is very important to recognize hostility as a personality trait versus a possible isolated situational reaction. Here are key signs of a hostile personality.
1. Dramatic in reactions; sometimes explosive
4. Refuses to admit fault
Be aware of people and situations you find yourself in and be ready to give a positive response when presented with a dilemma. They say, “Pick your battles”. I say, “Pick your battles and you’ll find most aren’t worth fighting but when they are, don’t be afraid to take a stand”.
What do you do?
What is your usual approach when dealing with difficult people?
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