If you have cruised through life without ever having dealt with a difficult person, count your lucky stars and brace yourself for the inevitable. Most of us know or have dealt with a difficult person. It’s hard to typecast “Mr or Mrs difficult” (let’s call him Mr D.) because they are available in a colourful variety pack at most of life’s outlets, whether it’s school, work, dinner parties or the local supermarket, interacting with these types can be a real strain. Ranging from unpredictable moods to explosive reactions and strong vocal opinions, time spent with such types, can have a knock-on effect on your own mood, confidence and daily outlook.
But have you ever stopped to think why they are difficult, perhaps they are going through a tough time or have endured personal experiences that have affected their ability to be positive. Taking a more compassionate approach can be helpful in understanding why Mr D. is so stressful to deal with. That aside, if you are dealing with a difficult person on a regular basis and finding it burdensome, it is important to empower yourself with strategies that make the interaction less stressful.
- Don’t let your guard down
Let’s face it, you are never going to be best buddies with Mr D., so don’t share personal or meaning details of your life with this person. Keep to light topics of conversation to reduce the amount of potential conflict and chances of being hurt by their comments or opinions.
- Show some compassion
As previously mentioned, difficult people often have problems of their own which have led them to act the way they do. Instead of taking their comments personally, show some compassion for whatever personal journey has led them to be this way. That being said, have your voice heard if you are offended and don’t tolerate bullying or aggressive behaviour.
- Just talk about them
Learning to tolerate difficult people is a personal challenge and it might become an easier task if you can see the lighter side of it. Often, difficult people are narcissists and love to talk about themselves. Consider this a humorous indulgence and deflect all conversations to be about them. This will negate any chance of the person offending you or having to divulge personal or sensitive information.
- Reward yourself for your tolerance
If dealing with Mr D. is a regular chore, reward yourself with a gift, personal time out, or a treat, for your kind, strategic and mindful behaviour.
If you find interacting with a difficult person is affecting your personal wellbeing, consider talking to a psychologist about personalised ways you can navigate through this challenging part of your life.