Influences that define difficult people - Deepstash

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How To Deal With Difficult People

Influences that define difficult people

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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Losing Your Identity
Losing Your Identity

Humans are social creatures, interdependent on one another. Socializing is at its core, a mental workout, and an essential part of brain development.

Being alone, one can start to lose the sense of who one is, as our identity requires a reflection from others to become real. Self-isolation, with zero interaction with other people, makes a person disappear gradually.

Being Alone Affects The Brain

Human beings form social circles averaging to 150 individuals; this is called the Dunbar’s Number.

A lack of people around us can actually make our brain shrink. The region known for formation of new memories, called the 'dentate gyrus', reduces in size if there is no human interaction. There is also a reduction in spatial processing (locating objects in a given space) and focus.

Solitude, Loneliness And Isolation

Positive solitude is a state of being alone without being lonely, in a contented manner.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is isolation with a hunger for social contact, something that distorts one’s perceptions, damaging the ability to interact in a normal way with others. It also lowers one’s self-esteem leading to a loneliness loop, characterized by social withdrawal and depression.

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”

Robert J Hanlon
Hanlon’s Razor Explained
  • We tend to associate completely disconnected events in a unique way, fitting them into our ‘story’, the narratives we build to create our distorted version of reality.
  • The patterns we think exist may not actually do so, but that does not stop us from assuming negative intent or malice in all that happens around us.
  • We need to realize that the world does not revolve around us and try to approach situations and events in a neutral, objective manner.
The Way To Apply Hanlon’s Razor

The basic rules that we need to apply:

  1. Move from assuming bad intentions towards exploring other causes.
  2. Engage in active communication.
  3. Embrace opportunities.
  4. Stay positive and driven.
  5. Stop blaming and focus on creative problem-solving.
  6. Assume a neutral, unbiased position.

Hanlon’s razor is a potent mental model which can be used in any situation where our first instinct is a negative assumption. Any wrong hypothesis related to the bad intentions of others is counterproductive and can play havoc in our lives.

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: They like to show off and to impress. They use name-dropping and comparisons.
  • The Passives: They don’t contribute much and let others do the hard work.
  • The Tanks: They are explosive and bossy. They want their way and will do anything to get it.
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.