How many of us have difficult people in our lives that we would be happy to not have at all? Someone whose default setting is to scream or be rude; someone who doesn’t have the first clue about responding rationally to a rational statement that you made; someone who lives a little too much by their own rules to be assimilated in the regular society.
But there are times when removal is not a solution. This person could be someone you have to deal with every single day, a friend, a work colleague, an office superior. As much as it would simplify our lives, killing people has not been legalized just yet, and there are slim chances that it would be in the near future.
So, in an attempt to simplify our lives without committing homicide, here are a few tips to deal with difficult people. These tips are applicable to your workplace as well as to your social circle. Leverage them to have better, more pleasant relationships with the people around you. Here we go!
Tip 1: Give respect to get some
This tip is more of an internal solution rather than being more confrontational. This should be the first attempt to diffuse a difficult situation and tackle difficult people. Not all situations require us to come out guns blazing. There might be instances where a simple shift in our own awareness could help us better deal with someone, we initially perceived to be difficult.
Try and be a little empathetic, maybe it is a solution to your problem.
Tip 2: Listen carefully
Most of the time, we don’t realize it, but we don’t actually listen to people. We wait for them to finish so that we can make our own point in a more emphatic way by adding the following words, “I heard what you said, now listen to me.”
What makes difficult people even more difficult to deal with is the fact that we don’t realize that sometimes they just want to be heard! Listen carefully and respond appropriately.
Tip 3: Don’t let the milk come to boil to lower the flame
Till now I’ve tried to be more empathetic in my approach to the subject, but this doesn’t mean that one should wait for an extreme incident to respond with a little toughness. A late response is just as good as no response at all. By this time, most of the dynamic gets shifted in favor of the opposite party.
Take time to respond, but not so much time that the other person becomes the dictator of every conversation you people have.
Tip 4: Set the record straight
It has been clearly outlined in various historical manuscripts – we teach people how to treat us. If this has any truth to it, which it does, it is crucial to have a firm, respectable image that you should set for yourself, one that clearly says, “I will not be disrespected.” Build a better image of yourself in your head, and it will reflect in the way that you are treated by others.
Tip 5: Try to find a middle ground
Having the ability to find common ground is a skill that very few of us possess. That’s why there are trained negotiators working in police departments to diffuse hostage situations and prospective suicidal people. This skill, however, is one that can be built. Having an objective perspective towards situations, combined with a calm demeanor can help a ton for coming to a mutual understanding.
Tip 6: Don’t use vague statements
Saying things like “I get it” or “I understand” is possibly the worst thing that you can say to someone who is not in the right state of mind (or usually doesn’t stay in the right state of mind). Have you tried that with your boss ever? I am sure the experience wasn’t a very pleasant one. Be specific to the issue at hand and respond with explicitness.
Tip 7: Don’t ever, I repeat EVER, respond angrily
Unless you want everyone in your vicinity to stand around the two of you and listen to the saga of who took the last of the sheets from the Xerox machine, be calm, at all times. Anger cannot defeat anger. So, take a deep breath before you say anything at all. Let whatever happened sync in, then, and only then endeavor upon giving an answer.