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. 

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Communication

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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.  

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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Some tend to spend the bulk of a conversation analyzing instead of paying attention to what a person is actually saying. They then walk away from a conversation with a drastically different view of what happened than the person they were talking to.
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