Here are six graceful ways you can handle the most difficult people in your life. 

They say death is the only certainty in life, and you might agree to that. And having to deal with a difficult person might not be a certainty in life, but its certain you have at least one heck of a person their presence alone makes dying worth it. We’ve all been there. According to The Global Human Capital Report, roughly 85 percent of coworkers have to deal with interpersonal conflict of some sort at the workplace. Of course, there’s always a “badass” colleague at work, at school, or even at home, and here are six graceful ways to deal with ’em.

#1. Accept Who They Are

First thing first, when you’re dealing with difficult people, remember that you’re not trying to change them. They’re unchangeable. Or maybe they want you to change, so accepting that they’re going to be whoever they are, is what you should learn to deal with. Give them the space to be themselves and start from a point where you only understand what makes them different. Whenever you interact with ‘em, we easily put labels on them, “he’s too rude,” “she’s spiteful,” “he’s such a psycho,” and the list goes on. Truth is, they’re doing the same thing to you, too. And its important to focus on their predicament, not personality.

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#2. Fix Things — And Start With You

Next step, fix the situation. Most often than not, people complain about the other person and their bad influence, but they often don’t take the initiative to act in response to it. Stop wishing, hoping, and praying that the other person change, they might not. Take the initiative to ratify the situation immediately — you change your attitude towards them and see what happens. And start acting so. Maybe they are the way they are all because of how you are. Ask yourself, “what am I doing that setting them off?,” “is my ego coming into conflict with theirs?,” by doing so, you tackle the situation from your point of view.

#3. Understand Their “Why”

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Furthermore, understand why they are what they are. Truth is, you can’t understand a difficult person if you seek not to understand why they are behaving the way that’s biting on your nerves. Whenever you interact, its easy to counter their points and to fight back at their arguments knowing their weaknesses. Instead, focus on saying insightful thoughts and asking better questions that builds healthy arguments with wherever they’re coming from. This could be that they have a different personae, or because they have a different way in life in general. Know their why.

#4. Never Make Assumptions About Their Intentions

This is the most important step. Most often than not, people generally assume that others are thinking as such as they are — subconsciously, or quite consciously — and their assumption about a difficult person’s intention is what dooms their interactions with them. Truth is, the difficult person most often than not don’t see themselves as difficult as you think they are. Don’t blame them; and your assumption may derail you. Now think of the many times when other people misunderstood your intent — its frustrating, and could even lead to further conflict. We’ve all been there. Kill those pre assumptions.

#5. Set Some Barriers

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Last but not least, you need some space. Like literally. This is not trying to avoid them, but setting limits on when, where, and how often you’ll interact with them. That awkward moment when the difficult person in your life is, say a close relative. Yikes! They’re always in your face all the time, and there is no way you can avoid them. But there is always the opportunity for you to close the barrier between you and them that often lead to these difficult moments. When interacting, give out compliments, build on commonalities, prove you’re trust worthy, acknowledge them, and don’t argue. This will only lower their defense slowly over time, and you win.

#6. Never Let Them Rule Over You

Finally, despite all that you’ve tried to resolve in your relationship, difficult people can still be a force to reckon with. Don’t ever let them. They might be manipulating you, in total control over your life, or just an intimidating friend you suddenly met and is a part of you. Truth is, you decide the people who you’re going to give undue influence over you in your life. And do your best to level off any control they have over you. After all, they don’t own your life, you do. Difficult people don’t have to be so difficult, either. Apply these six strategies and you might be in total control of your life, not some other.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Nov 13, 2021.


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