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7 Strategies to Deal With Difficult Family Members

Don’t try to fix the difficult person

Accept them exactly as they are. 

Accept that they are unable to change, at least at this point in time. Unless you see real change — proof that this person is making an effort to listen and meet you halfway — you can assume that their behavior is what it has always been.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

7 Strategies to Deal With Difficult Family Members

7 Strategies to Deal With Difficult Family Members

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-flux/201802/7-strategies-deal-difficult-family-members

psychologytoday.com

7

Key Ideas

Don’t try to fix the difficult person

Accept them exactly as they are. 

Accept that they are unable to change, at least at this point in time. Unless you see real change — proof that this person is making an effort to listen and meet you halfway — you can assume that their behavior is what it has always been.

Be present and direct

Try to avoid getting into a fight-or-flight response, which inevitably leads to becoming defensive

  • Be direct and assertive when you express yourself. 
  • Stay focused on how you respond. 
  • Know when the discussion or argument has accelerated to the point of no return. If it gets to this point, stop the interaction, and leave the conversation.

Encourage difficult people to express themselves

Let them fully state their point of view about the issue/conflict/problem without interruption. What do they feel people misunderstand about them? What do they want or expect from others? 

The idea is to remain as neutral as possible. Just listening may be enough to allow someone to feel like they have the opportunity to say what’s on their mind. 

Watch for trigger topics

Inevitably there will be topics that represent points of disagreement and disharmony. Know what these topics are, and be extremely aware when these are brought up. 

Be prepared to address these issues in a direct, non-confrontational way or to deflect the conflict if the atmosphere becomes too heated.  

Some topics are off-limits

History and experiences should tell you that some subjects should be avoided at all costs. 

If your experience dealing with certain issues has left you stressed out or emotionally depleted, it's best to avoid the discussion until a time when both parties are willing to move it forward in a constructive way. 

It’s not about you

Usually, arguments initially center around a specific topic/disagreement/response that made a person upset. If allowed to continue, the argument can become heated, accelerating quickly to personal attacks.

Make a concerted effort to imagine it unfolding before it actually does — and then nip it in the bud. 

Your own well-being comes first

Never allow any personal interaction or relationship to infringe upon or challenge your own well-being. 

Visualize your boundaries, that protective territory between you and someone else.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Develop Your Self-awareness
  • Learn to manage your own emotions. 
  • Practice noticing your feelings, thoughts, and behavior--your triggers. Document things as they com...
Be Assertive and Set Boundaries

An assertive person takes full responsibility for herself and her actions. 

  • Seek self-control, be fair and reasonable, take on the part of the problem that belongs to you, and keep the rest of the problem where it belongs--with the difficult person.
  • Set limits and stand up for yourself so others won't take advantage. 
  • Use "I" statements, not "you" statements (these tend to lead to attack and blame).
Listen
  • Give the difficult person a chance to finish without interrupting. 
  • Ask clarifying questions if confused, and use paraphrasing and mirroring to check the accuracy of hearing.
  • Acknowledge the other person's feelings. So, if the other person is angry, say, "You must be feeling very frustrated..."

one more idea

Seek to understand

People tend to disagree when they don't understand each other. That does not mean you have to agree, just that you're open to hearing them out.

When you come to an understanding t...

Look beyond your own triggers

Whatever may have happened in your past, you have to find a way to get past your triggers and see that you're in a new situation with a person who doesn't mean you harm. What's triggered is usually fear and awareness of one's limitations.

Look for similarities, not differences

Look for common ground. When you concentrate on differences the space grows wider, but when you seek out what you have in common it helps bridge the gap.

4 more ideas

4 different types of difficult people
  • The Downers (the Negative Nancys): almost impossible to please, they always have something bad to say. They complain, critique and judge. 
  • The Know It Alls: The...
Disengaging difficult personalities

Don't try changing people, try understanding them.

When you try to change someone they tend to resent you, dig in their heels, and get worse. The way to disengage a difficult person is to try understanding where they are coming from.

Finding The Value Language

When trying to understand difficult people, search for their value language.

A value language is what someone values most. It is what drives their decisions. For some people it is money; for others, it is power or knowledge.

Communication needs improvement if:
  • You are having trouble getting through to your spouse; you talk about the same issue over and over again without coming to an agreement.
  • You seem unable to have a decent conversation...
Just Communicate

It is difficult to discuss some sensitive subjects, and we are tempted to avoid them. Other times we simply expect our partners to know what we are doing, thinking or what we want.

It is much better to get things out in the open regularly rather than waiting to have big rows that might damage your relationship.

Listen actively

Be curious about your partner’s point of view rather than trying to anticipate every situation. Active listening involves:

  • Paying attention to your partner.
  • Tolerating your silence.
  • Paying attention to your partner’s nonverbal communication.
  • Reflecting and paraphrasing what your partner is saying: I hear you say you feel angry when I ….. Is that what you are saying?

12 more ideas

Validate Their Feelings

Saying things like 'I understand why you'd feel that way...' or 'Anyone would feel like that in the same situation' validates the other person's emotions and completely disarm...

Look At It As A Conversation

Go back to the concept of talking with someone rather than talking to someone.

It can help keep the other person cool, which pretty much always means you've won the argument.

Make It All About Them
We naturally approach the world from our own points of view,

The key to successful persuasion is to show how and why something matters in relation to that person's life and experience.

8 more ideas

Identities and core beliefs

We build our lives around certain core beliefs. And discussing them will most likely yield anger and indignation (i.e discussing religion or politics).

We usually fail to adjust to the...

Do the work required

Rather than be opinionated, we should strive to be informed.

We should know the other side’s argument better than they know theirs. Instead of attacking a straw man, aim to knock down the strongest version of an argument you disagree with.

Charlie Munger
Charlie Munger

“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”

4 more ideas

Handle difficult people

Difficult people defy logic. They create unnecessary complexity, strife and worst of all stress.

90 % of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in ord...

Set limits

People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude.

Avoid this by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

Rise above

Difficult people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. 

Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos -- only the facts.

8 more ideas

The spirit of inquiry

Amazing leaders are not interested in winning for their own ego. They understand that finding the truth benefits the whole team so everyone can win. 

Open your mind a...

Don't assume anything 

Without a face or a voice to convey emotion, written text can easily be misconstrued as being terse, sarcastic, snarky, or even mean. 

Always assume you don’t know the tone of any written communication you receive and openly inquire as to the emotions of your debate partner.

Stating the desired outcome

Many people enter into a debate ready to battle with only one side knowing the rules and purpose of engagement. 

Before beginning any debate or argument, discuss with the other party a purposeful outcome and define clear rules of engagement.

4 more ideas

Identifying Difficult People
  • The Perfectionist. If you are looking for quick results, perfectionists can be a source of frustration.
  • Control freaks. When you want to do th...
Identifying the Issue

Turn the situation inward and analyze your triggers and reactions to these situations. 

  • How do you react to a difficult person in your life?
  • How does your difficult person react to your reactions?
  • If the other person is the problem, are you growing unhealthy actions and reactions in response to him or her?
  • Are you the difficult person driving others to reactive behavior?
  • How do others react to your actions and responses?
Mitigating These Situations

Separate the facts from your assumptions. 

Separate yourself and your reactions from the negative emotions you may be feeling in the moment. 

6 more ideas

Active listening

Is a technique for developing our ability to listen, to make a conscious effort to understand what people are really saying.

As a communication technique, it is used in many prof...

Core components of Active Listening
  • Comprehending: To communicate, we must first understand what the other person (or people) are actually saying.
  • Retaining: To respond in an appropriate manner, we must understand and retain what the other person has said.
  • Responding: An active response should show that we understand what the other person has said, have paid attention to their words and also read their non-verbal cues.
Improving Active Listening skills
  • Educate yourself on common cognitive biases and shortcuts;
  • Avoid trying to respond immediately. Allow the other person time to finish speaking, then provide a considered response;
  • Minimize conversational narcissism by keeping track of your use of pronouns(I, me);
  • Seek to develop a clear picture of the other person’s logic;