I do a lot of sales training and sales networking and the number one rule is that it’s NOT about you — it’s about your prospect, customer or client. I agree with that.
But… when it comes to dealing with difficult people, it really IS all about you.
NOT because you’re to blame, or because you need to change to adapt to their difficult behavior. It’s about you because you are the only person over whom you have control.
When people create difficulty or dissonance in a relationship, it’s because of what they are experiencing, what their history did to them, or their emotional state. So, why do I say it about YOU? It sounds like you shouldn’t take their bad behavior personally because it’s all about them. TRUE!
Difficult people have something going on inside of THEM that makes them difficult in that moment, so in that sense it’s NOT about you.
But the ball that is in your court is the one that decides to change how you are going to interact, improve or ignore that relationship. You get to choose how you want to respond to difficult people. Simple as that. The control of your life, your stress level and your perspective is all about YOU.
I’ll be doing a series of blogs next week about this and offering some very specific tips for how to deal with difficult people you work with, or if you’re the boss and have difficult employees, when you’re in a relationship or friendship that is strained, and what to do when the difficult people you encounter are complete strangers. I hope you’ll follow along (and even sign up for the RSS feed.)
To get us started, here are your first four tips on dealing with difficult people:
1) When they yell, snap or shout at you, don’t respond the same way. Take one step back from them and speak in a soft, low tone. This will either give them the message that they are over-reacting, or tell you all you need to know about this person and lower your own stress level.
2) If they act in a passive aggressive manner with snide comments mumbled under their breath, notes instead of conversation, or if they make jokes at your expense or insult you in front of other people, don’t react in the moment while your emotions are running high. Speak with them privately and use this model: When you (do/say) I feel (name a feeling) and what I want is (name a solution.)
3) Don’t play along with the behavior that bothers you. If you have a co-worker who continually complains or gossips, don’t allow them to do it with you simply because you don’t want to offend them by telling them you don’t want to hear it. If you have a family member that always contradicts you or picks a fight, don’t react back to them the same way. Be in control of you first, and then you will be in a better position to address the problems their behavior is causing.
4) Get to know your personality style and how to identify their personality style. Armed with that knowledge, you can then see where you have commonalities, and where you’ll likely have conflict in the way you view the world, view people and like to have things done.
When you take control of your reactions around difficult people, it is the first step in reframing the relationship, or deciding that you can end that relationship.