“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie
Whenever I see posts like “How to deal with these kinds of people…”, I kind of cringe. I think we can all be a certain kind of person from time to time. Many of us have rather unrealistic expectations related to what our human interactions should be like on a daily basis. Therapists have an expression: Don’t should on yourself (we’re hilarious aren’t we). We feel entitled to people agreeing with us or being kind to us. When in fact, we are not entitled to this type of treatment at all. Yes, it would be nice if every person I interacted with was having a super day and smiled me on my way. But, that is just not how the real world works.
How do you deal with difficult people?
- Most of the time it isn’t about you. If someone is being difficult is is likely because there is an area of their life that is not as they think it should be (finances, kids, sleep, work, relationships, etc). This makes extending kindness to you more challenging. I suggest you let them be and send them some loving thoughts and compassion.
- It might be about you. In these cases, much of this has to do with expectations. I know that because of my beliefs and values some people find me difficult. I’m fairly outspoken. I also don’t have the faith system that many think I should. The people with disparate values need to do a better job of setting boundaries in their relationships. I may never be besties with a Fundamentalist Christian (actually I am). But really, don’t try to shove a round peg in a square whole. Maybe you should get along but you don’t so stop forcing the uncomfortable relationship to be something it is not. They will always feel like they are living life the right way and you will always feel like you are living life the right way. So, it’s best to stay in your own lane and out of theirs.
- You might be triggering something in someone. Like, if you’re having a great day or life is overall pretty great for you, other people may feel bad about themselves around you. This can result in painful jabs towards the happy person. I’m not sure that the unhappy person always knows that they are cutting someone down to size but if you feel jabby or you are being jabbed use your boundaries.
- Who does she think she is? This is another case of triggering something in someone. Some people cannot be happy for you if you are happy. It is just not possible for them. This may lead to difficult interactions. Again, let them be and ramble on.
- Basically, people want the outside (the world around them) to match the inside (their emotional state). This means that if someone is difficult it is likely because they are suffering. That being said, you do not deserve to be the whipping post for someone in emotional distress. Please do not jab them back. Instead, take a deep breath and send them love and compassion. And go on your way.
- You are not entitled to life as it should be you are given a life as it is. This involves dealing with people who may not always be kind to you. This is okay. It doesn’t mean you deserve to be treated poorly, it just is what it is.
- Don’t react or defend yourself. This only fuels the negativity. It’s best to just listen and exit the situation as soon as you can. This leaves the other party having to deal with the mess themselves. I can hear you saying “But, I don’t deserve to be talked to or treated this way” and you are correct but the best way to handle this is silence and removal.
- Try to have some self-awareness around when you are being a difficult person. Maybe you are telling someone all the reasons their idea won’t work. Maybe you are making a lot of sarcastic comments. Maybe you are gossiping about “who does she think she is.” Maybe you are making fun of someone. How you behave is direct reflection of how you feel. If you are being difficult do yourself a favor (and the rest of us) and take better care of yourself. In a lot of cases, it is that critical voice in your head (I’m not good enough, I’m never going to be happy) that ends up coming out of your mouth (she’s an idiot, they’re not really happy). Start inside and work your way out.
- You’re human and you have permission to be difficult once in awhile. But, you are always responsible for how you treat people and if you hurt someone in the midst of being difficult you should apologize. Even better, you can give the people around you (at work and at home) a heads up and say, “I’m struggling today, I might need some space.” People are less likely to take things personally when you give them a heads up.
That’s all for this sunny Friday afternoon.
“I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.” – Unknown