If you let them, difficult people can ruin your day. They excel at siphoning your energy and crushing your good spirits. It’d be great if you could avoid them altogether, but that isn’t always an option. You may encounter difficult people in inescapable places, such as the workplace or within your own family. But there are techniques to dealing with these difficult people. Employing these techniques will not only help you better handle conflict, but it may also help you become a better person.
Try using these 4 techniques to handle difficult people:
1. Adopt a Beginner’s Mindset
Resist the need to be right, even if you are right. You might need to ask your ego and intellect to stand aside. Pretend you don’t know the right answer and be open to a new perspective. Proceed with an open tolerance of the other party’s position. You don’t have to agree with or like their perspective. (Chopra) Ultimately, the other party doesn’t care if you are right. They might just be looking to argue, but their argument might contain grains of truth. Take every conflict as an opportunity to learn. You might be right, but you could be wrong, too. Keep an open mind. Be curious, not argumentative.
2. Maintain Self-Control
When facing a difficult person, you must keep your cool. The less reactive you are, the more you can employ judgment to address the situation. A great trick for this is to make yourself a third party. Observe the situation as though you were watching it from afar. This is a mindful approach that enables the difficult situation at hand to be only temporary. This helps you become proactive rather than reactive. Don’t bow to their bullying tactics—just refuse to get pulled into it. You don’t have to cower; you are not, in this situation, the timid mouse. You are simply in control of your emotions and actions, which empowers you to have more control over the situation. This takes practice, to be sure. Try daily meditation. This can help train your brain to more easily slip into a controlled state.
3. Approach with Compassion
When you remove consciously shift your mind from reactive to proactive, it is far easier to respond to difficult people with kindness. You don’t have to be a pushover and you don’t have to give up your view, but you don’t have to be rude about it, either. Showing compassion will help deescalate the tension. It also helps to separate the person from the issue. When you act with gentility, people will be more open to what you have to say. State your boundaries clearly and professionally, but don’t attack and don’t provoke. Be soft on the person and firm on the issue.
4. Smile, Relax and Breath
Focusing on your breathing takes your focus from the negative external stimuli and places it internally. This puts your mind at peace, enabling you to deal with difficult people and situations more effectively. A genuine smile can be an excellent way to lower the other party’s defense mechanisms. It throws them off course and can also ease your own internal tension. If, however, the situation is extremely volatile, do not engage with the other party. Some arguments are best diffused by walking away.