A significant part of life is dealing with difficult people. That boss who seems to always pick on you, the parent-in-law who doesn’t think you’re good enough, the “frenemy” who likes to compete with you through her passive-aggressive nature… all of them can impact your happiness and sap your energy.
If it’s impossible to get away from the difficult people in your life, it’s important to come up with a way to deal with them in order to keep your sanity. Get more personalized advice, contact a psychic today!
Getting Over One of Life’s Challenges
For most, the first instinct is to fight fire with fire. But it’s important to think about the possible outcome. What would happen if you told your mother-in-law exactly what you thought of her? Would it change the wrong opinion she already has of you? Or her behavior toward you? Would it impact your relationship with your spouse? Would it impact the relationship your children have with their grandparents? It’s important to remember—as tempting as it is to tell her exactly what she can do with her unwelcome “advice”—the defensive approach can often make things worse.
In an ideal world, each of us would be allowed to see the incident that prompted the people in our lives to become the way that they are… to see what happened in their past that caused them to stop sharing love and start sharing criticism. In an ideal world we would be able to change our own views towards these people into one of compassion and understanding… realizing that the reason our mother-in-law is so critical of us is because her own mother-in-law (or mother) used to get on her case all the time, and as a result she now feels inadequate. So now she has this uncontrollable urge to assert her authority whenever she can.
That’s an ideal world scenario. Unfortunately, in reality most of us are just trying to get through our nephew’s graduation—or other family gatherings—without losing it!
So here are some ways you can start to deal with difficult people to change their behavior toward you almost immediately. They won’t necessarily be easy, but they will grant you some peace:
1. Take a time-out. Whenever someone has you on the ropes, it’s hard to fight the urge to respond with the same punch they just delivered. This is when it’s good to get away from the situation for a while. Excuse yourself politely, and head to an area where you can sit quietly and breathe deeply. Back when I had a desk job and these types of situations would come up, the restroom became my place of refuge. I would simply go into a stall and shut the door while I calmed down.
2. Respond in the affirmative. After you’ve reached a point where you feel you can approach the person again, let them know that you’ve thought about what they said, and you are going to take it under consideration. This may or may not actually be the case, but the point is to get the person to realize that you’ve listened to what they said.
Think of this as being similar to what happens in an arm wrestling contest. It’s always completely up to you how much pressure your opponent applies. The more you fight, the harder they push back against you. However, if you let go, the pressure immediately stops.
It’s true that you won’t “win” if you release, but when you’re dealing with someone who is tying you up on knots with their criticism, you have to ask yourself if “winning” is always the best strategy. Is it better to be right, or to have peace? The answer could change depending on the person, and that’s okay. Just know that you always have an option.
3. Thank them for their input. This one can be especially hard when someone has just berated you, but it can also be the game changer. Once you’ve thanked someone for their “advice,” it’s very difficult for them to continue to pummel you. They’ve gotten what they wanted, some recognition that what they are telling you matters. So at that point, most people will leave you alone. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. That’s when it’s important to look back at tip #1. If the person can’t stop, excuse yourself politely and leave the conversation.
After you’ve used these tips, you’ll likely notice a change in the demeanor of the difficult person in your life. Once you show them that you aren’t going to play the game anymore, it’s no longer interesting for them and after a while they move on.
And of course in the long-term, it’s good for all of us to work on compassion and understanding toward the difficult people in our lives. Behind every harsh action is a story—some moment in time in that person’s past that has led them to become the way they are. If it’s possible to find a way to understand that and start to respond with love, that is what will truly change the world.
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