tall alien kneeling beside young girl holding an orange cat. The backdrip is the night sky.

Formula For Dealing With Difficult People

“I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me.” ~Terence

February – A Month of Self-Care       

           At the end of January, I began to write about the holidays in February.  There were so many different “celebrations” that I had a hard time narrowing them down.  In the end, I concluded that the central theme for February is self-care.  Think Heart Health Month, Valentine’s Day, and even National Dark Chocolate Day (yes, that one is real – February 1st!).

      And, so, I wrote about self-care.  However, many of my readers who are familiar with my writing know that I often offer suggestions about self-care and getting the support you need (whether via coaching or other methods).  I wanted to provide some sort of new information that would be valuable to you.

Impediments to Self-Care

      The whole exercise got me thinking about some of the main impediments to self-care that I often work with clients on.  The list is as individual as each one of us, but one of the major topics that stands out is dealing with difficult people.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World 

     We all wish other people would change.  Don’t we?  If we are honest with ourselves, we all would like to “rule the world”.  We tend to believe our way is the right way, therefore others must be wrong and should conform to our way of thinking and doing things.

      Although it may sound simplistic, this is an important concept to grasp.  Every single human being on the planet is unique with a distinct set of past experiences, beliefs, preferences, and circumstances.  Everyone goes through life filtering their existence through their unique lenses.  Although we can empathize and seek to understand, it would be unrealistic to believe we can fully comprehend someone else’s life experience.

Fluid Dimensions of Well-Being

      In addition to the impact of past experiences, individuals cycle through various dimensions of physical, mental, and emotional well-being.  That is to say, our states of being are fluid, changing for day to day and even hour to hour.  For instance, a lack of sleep can make for a miserable workday; bad news can make it hard to concentrate and leave us prone to mistakes; and a messy breakup can trigger a painful grieving process.  But, a restful night of sleep can be empowering; happy news can bolster our productivity; and a supportive relationship can be comforting and uplifting.

      Perhaps, due to years of studying human behavior, I view things from an alien perspective.  However, I doubt anyone can deny that the state of the world feels a bit chaotic and negative.   People seem especially unhappy.   I attribute a lot of that sentiment to social media, our increasing reliance on technology, and decreased social connection.

Nothing Human Is Alien To Me

      It goes without saying that, here on Planet Earth, we will encounter difficult people.  We all have the capacity to be excellent.  And, we all have the capacity to be mediocre and even horrible excuses for human beings.  (“Nothing human [is] alien to me.”)  Fortunately, we get to decide how we will choose to behave and how we will respond to difficult people.

Formula For Dealing With Difficult People

    Hopefully, the above thoughts make the below Formula For Dealing With Difficult People a bit more meaningful.

    • Hurt people hurt people.
    • You never know how strong the battle is.
    • Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
    • Repeat a mantra, such as “I’m going to love you because I don’t want to be tied to you forever” (Johnnie Colemon), when thoughts of perceived slights come to mind.
    • Choose your battles wisely.
    • Resist the urge to stoop to their level.
    • Use “I” statements (rather than accusatory “You” statements) to assert yourself. 
    • Limit your time together.
    • Manage your expectations.
    • Do not take anything personally.
    • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Empathize.
    • Examine your own strengths and weaknesses.
    • See if you can learn anything from the interaction. 
    • Look for something good in the other person.
    • Some of my readers might object to this one, but pray for the other person!

       None of this is to say that dealing with difficult people is easy.  Sometimes, they seem to know just when to push your buttons.  Don’t they?  

      Is there something on your mind that you would like me to address in upcoming posts?  Please contact me here.

Join The Blog Today!

Get wellness & mental fitness tips delivered straight to your inbox!