It’s unfortunate but we all have them in our life … one or two people with whom we just don’t see eye to eye, who rub us the wrong way, get under our skin, make us want to turn and run. Have I missed your personal description of such people? The problem is that complaining won’t change them or make them disappear. So what can you do to deal with difficult people in your life?
As a Life Coach, I have come across this with several clients and can offer three coping strategies and explain how they can help:
Strategy One: During your next encounter, use your “observer’s mind” to watch yourself in the exchange with this person. At what point do you begin to feel uncomfortable? What occurs that makes you uncomfortable? Use your senses in this exploration. What do you actually see and hear? Where do you feel it in your body? What do you feel in your body? What emotion gets stirred up? Does this person or situation remind you of a challenging encounter from your past?
Benefit: This exercise helps you take personal responsibility for your part in the exchange and can help you discover the “trigger point” of difficulty for you. Once known, you then have the opportunity to choose a different response and create a new coping strategy.
Strategy Two: Take a time-out and write about what you discovered from your “observer’s mind” exercise. Unearthing what is going on in you gives you deeper self-knowledge. With self-knowledge comes personal empowerment and increased emotional intelligence, both of which will serve you well.
Benefit: The fact is the only person you can truly affect is yourself. The more you know about how you function in relationships and interpersonal exchanges the less you will be affected by challenging individuals. If you discover a weakness in your ability to cope, this too is an opportunity to seek help, learn and grow as a person.
Strategy Three: Create a private conversation between you and this person on paper. You are the author of both voices. In this dialogue you can say anything you want but you also must give voice on the page to his/her point of view.
Benefit: Getting out of our own point of view and being willing to see someone else’s can be a big eye opener. Often we are so entrenched in our own “stuff,” our own way of being, that we can’t see the other’s challenges, pain, insecurity, vulnerability or fear – any or all of which can provoke someone to seem difficult or disagreeable. Once we actually acknowledge someone’s humanity, patience …and maybe even compassion … can come into the exchange. And that can change everything!
You can deal with difficult people given the right tools.
Part of achieving an “Integrated Life” or balanced life comes by learning to understand the nuances of how to deal with a various of people in variety of situations.