Difficult people, unreasonable people, mean people.
We all know them -- they may be friends, family members, co-workers, customers or total strangers... It doesn't matter. We have the ongoing challenge of having to deal with them in our daily lives.
Since we have deal with these types of people, then we have to learn and employ methods that will assist us in our dealings with these types of people. So what can we do to make our interactions more bearable, less belittling and more productive?
Before I answer that question, I want to delve into just what happens to many of these individuals in their lives that makes them so bitter, cruel and in some cases, just plain mean, difficult and a pain to be around.
I have a theory--and that is these types of people are the way they are because of (I) narcissism and (2)past environment / past experiences. In many cases these people appear outwardly tough, but in actuality many are fragile inside due to lack of confidence in themselves, mistrust in others and emotional trauma.
If you have ever met a narcissist, you know its always about them...what they want, what they think is right, wrong, best, important, etc....they are not concerned about what it is you need or want, or the team, family, company needs or wants, they are concerned about what they need and want, and will not hesitate stepping on or around others to get it. Many of these types of people are extremely intelligent, and that is why after a discussion with one of these people we sometimes feel belittled, unimportant and upset, since personal attacks are one tool these people use to get what they want.
Regarding the past environment of these types of people, it would not be surprising to learn that they may have been verbally abused at some point in their life by parents and family, classmates or coworkers. Or, it could be an entitlement thing, where they were waited on hand and foot growing up and were handed everything they wanted and as a result answer to no one....except themselves. Or, it could be that their focus and standards are so high for themselves that they don't realize that everyone else is different than they are, so they come across as intimidating.
Regardless of the reason some people choose to be difficult or mean, many times the affront we see before us is a carefully designed and calculated image these people want to project to others in order to protect them from future harm. In a sense, their difficult personality is really their "force field" that keeps others from harming them.
So the big question is -- how do we deal with these types of people?
Listed below are five methods that may help in interacting with difficult people ---these methods are designed to enable us to manage our actions (and our responses) and to quell the frustration so common with these interactions.
1) Prepare yourself. As I stated above, these types of people can be very smart, and you can bet they do their homework to back up their agenda --so do yours and approach communications with matter-of fact assurance, especially against these types.
2) Communications. Use the subject in discussion, not first person. For example instead of saying "You were supposed to have that report to me last week", say "The report was due last week". See the difference? It is not perceived as a personal attack by the recipient, although everyone involved knows who is responsible.
3) Be tough. If someone has crossed a line with you, belittled you or made you look bad in front of others when they should have pulled you aside to discuss something one-on-one, confront them about it. Let them know their behavior is unacceptable to you and that you do not appreciate it. This does not always work, but most will think twice the next time...and at the very least they will secretly respect you for standing up to them.
4) Show empathy and understanding. No-- I'm not joking...this is extremely hard to do, especially if you do not like the person, but many of these difficult personalities may have experience, ideas or knowledge that you lack. So realize that if you can achieve a mindset not to take things they say or do personal, and as a result are able to tap into their knowledge or ideas, your reward will be self-enrichment.
5) Avoidance. Sometimes nothing works.... after trying everything you can think of, either just walk away or aim for total avoidance.
Remember to always Be Yourself --never, never, E V E R go down to their level. Employ patience and logic, humility, understanding and try not to accuse and remember that it is up to each of us to assure that any interactions or communications we are involved in with anyone are reasonable and calm, not emotionally-charged shouting matches.