Dealing with difficult people is something we all have to face. Luckily, many of the skills we us to make our marriages run smoothly and diffuse tension can also be used for dealing with difficult people. Here are the top 5 Power of Two golden rules for conflict and communication in marriage that will help you in any situation, whether at work, with friends, or family members.
- Remember: it’s not about you. Only we control our emotions–no one can “make” someone else angry, upset, or irritated. So while you may have made a mistake that was regrettable and caused problems (and if so, recognize and acknowledge it), if someone becomes angry, guilts you, or treats you poorly, that is their problem. If they are angry, that is their problem.
- Find a higher purpose. Dealing with difficult people is a part of life, and learning how to be around others’ negativity without letting it get to you is a useful skill. Since difficult people are unlikely to change their ways, and it is not your job to try to get them to do so, you can only change the way you react to them. As a way of “finding a higher purpose,” figure out how you can use these interactions to better yourself. Try approaching each interaction with a difficult person as an opportunity to practice patience, compassion, and personal detachment.
- Set small goals. Set small goals for dealing with difficult people. For an argumentative person, try this Power of Two online marriage counseling conflict resolution technique: respond to all his or her opinions with an agreement: “Yes, I can see that….” before expanding on your own contribution with “and at the same time…” Acknowledging what is right in their viewpoint helps put a positive spin on the disagreement and sets the stage for positive collaboration. Even if the difficult person continues to be argumentative, feel calm and proud of yourself for responding well.
- Stay cool using the exit and re-enter strategy. Learn the internal signs of when you start to get sucked into someone’s angry vortex. The moment you start to get heated too, exit the conversation and the room. You can simply say, “I need a drink of water” or “I need a walk around the block.” Re-enter once you’ve calmed down.
- Recognize: is not your job to make nice and keep everybody calm and happy. Sometimes several difficult people get together and start to argue and create a very unpleasant environment. You can, firmly but calmly, ask everyone to stop arguing. If they do not, try to just let it go. Again, if people are going to be difficult, that is their choice. You do not control their emotions, and your are not responsible for making them happy.
Do you have any advice or stories of how to deal with difficult people? Share them below in the comments section or on our Facebook page.