How To Deal With Difficult People - Deepstash
Defining difficult people

We are social creatures who desire validation. We feel good when others share our belief system. But we feel dejected when others do not value our inputs, crush our ideas, or ignore what we have to say.

These difficult people act in undesirable ways and give us permission to pass judgement and offload responsibility by blaming them for undesirable outcomes.

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We view the world and the people in it from a specific paradigm.

How we relate to someone is driven by our personality, expectations, background, and experience. Why we find someone difficult is then a very personal affair.

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  • T - Tagging. We are quick to label others as needy, manipulative, fake, arrogant, but explain away our own selfish acts and believe we are better than others.
  • R - Righteous. When we find someone difficult, we start believing in the righteousness of how we feel, what we want, and why the other person deserves to be treated in a certain way. We reject them as a person, as well as their ideas.
  • I - Intention. Once we know we are right, it's easy to assume they act out of bad intent.
  • C - Confirmation. Once we think someone is difficult, every interaction serves as a validation of our beliefs. We will reject the evidence that contradicts our beliefs and seek information that strengthens our views.
  • K - Keenness to fix others. Without changing our own behavior, we assume the other person is at fault and then desire to fix them.

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“Never attribute to bad intentions that which is adequately explained by ignorance, incompetence, negligence, misunderstanding, laziness or other probable causes”

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When dealing with difficult people, the amygdala in the brain, responsible for processing emotions, perceives them as a threat. This triggers the fight-or-flight response.

We either try to fight the behavior or flee from the situation without solving the problem. The interaction can release stress hormones that lead to a pounding heart, tense muscles, and anxiety. It can also drain us of energy and lead to overthinking.

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  • Separate the person from the behavior. It will allow you to identify your own limits and find what aspect of a person's behavior troubles you. "I find you obnoxious" vs. "The idea you suggested does not consider..."
  • Widen your perspective. Ask why you feel this way? What if your feelings are wrong? Could they be feeling insecure around you?
  • Don't react, act. Show a collaborative mindset by discussing the outcomes you both desire. Establish boundaries. Actively listen to the other person.
  • Take the hard road. Despite all your efforts, things may still not work out. Instead of being disappointed, involve the right people for guidance and ideas.

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