Your options when it comes to dealing with difficult people

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Your options when it comes to dealing with difficult people


Kenny Rogers had it right.
“Know when to hold them, know when to fold them.  Know when to walk away and know when to run”.  If you are saying “Kenny who” I am showing my age.  I will be positive and say that this implies wisdom on my behalf!

Difficult people are all around us.  You cannot avoid them!  In fact, there is someone somewhere in the world that finds you difficult.  Weird huh?

The key to dealing with difficult people is be aware of how it affects you, to be aware of your own responses, to maintain emotional control and to ensure that you are working for the best outcome.  This is not about control or manipulation but about choice.  We all choose our behavior and also our responses.

In dealing with difficult people, there are times when the best thing to do is let it go (for example, if the person is unlikely to listen or change).  There are also times when it is best to speak up confidently and assertively (for example if someone at work is disrespecting you).  There are also times when you need to look after yourself because the person is unlikely to change (the overly needy friend who always takes and never gives).

I was dealing with a very aggressive person recently.  This person was known to Police and was involved in drugs.  This person did not want my assistance and made it very clear.  There were some legal reasons that I was asked to be involved to provide this person with their right to support.

Despite my best intentions this fellow would verbally threaten, yell abuse and generally disrespect me each time we met.  It was clear that after only a few encounters this person was not going to change and that my time and energy was best served by working with someone who did want my support.  This is what I mean when I say “pick your battles, look after yourself and realise that each of us are self responsible.”

This can be a hard idea to swallow if you feel over responsible, if you have ever enabled someone in your life.  The bottom line is that each of us are accountable for our own outcomes.

Your difficult person may be telling you that if you don’t help them they wont cope.  The truth is, the best gift you can give them is by believing in them, empowering them and allowing them to do things independently.  If you would like to know how to assert your options when dealing with difficult people consider our Mastering the Art of Difficult Conversations masterclass on November 12 2014.

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