With office parties and family gatherings around the holidays, many of us are forced to deal with difficult people. It can drain our energy, productivity and joy. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be this way.
Here are 9 Ways to Skilfully Deal with Difficult People that you Can't Avoid:
1. Stop wishing they were different and show respect towards the other person. Remember that you're not trying to change them. Give people the space to be themselves.
2. Proactively fix the problem and begin with you. Ask what you're doing that might be triggering the other person. For example, is your ego coming into play and causing you to escalate what otherwise could be innocuous exchanges.
3. Understand their why and determine whether they're in fact being difficult or whether you're being overly sensitive. Ask them to tell you more so you can understand better. You might discover they're behaving the way they are because they have a serious personal situation going on that they’re distraught by. Knowing that would change your interpretation of the situation.
4. Stop making assumptions. When you're constantly assuming the worst about someone's intent, your interactions are likely to be negative. Difficult people usually don't see themselves that way. Remember occasions when someone misunderstood your intent – no doubt it was frustrating and lead to unnecessary conflict.
5. Don’t act defensively. This is tough as you will naturally want to defend yourself. But if the other person is emotionally charged, it’s not going to help. Often this is not about you. Don’t take it personally (easier said than done but try).
6. Avoid the urge to argue or try to convince the other of anything.
7. Build bridges. Take small steps to close the gap in what separates you. Find genuine compliments to give. Build on commonalities.
8. Let go and decide not to let them have power over you. Ultimately, that difficult person still might cause frustration or anxiety. But remember, it's a choice whether you give someone influence over you. When frustration sets in, remind yourself that it's a choice to focus on it and choose to let go.
9. Get more sleep. Sleep deprivation on its own raises stress hormone levels even without a stressor present. If you get a good night’s sleep you will wake up happier, more positive, creative and proactive in your approach when dealing with difficult people, giving you the perspective and clarity you need to deal with them effectively.