Are there others around you, day in and day out, who make you miserable? Wouldn’t you love to change the dynamics of your experiences with them?
The existence of difficult people can be viewed as an opportunity to learn. What can you pick up from these people, and how can it benefit you? Can they teach you more about the world and your role?
Try these strategies and see if you don’t feel differently about those who present challenges:
1. See difficult people as teachers. They may be in your life to teach you a valuable lesson.
- What can you learn from a difficult person in your life? What lessons can you pick up from interacting with this person? Even if it’s only to teach you patience, they are valuable to you in some way.
- Why does this person remain in your life?
2. See difficult people as messengers. Perhaps they’re revealing to you a part of your personality that could use some work or healing. They may trigger thoughts and feelings in you that require some thought and soul searching.
- For example, a person who annoys you with constant talking may be triggering the part of you that could work on communication. Why are you bothered by the extensive talking, and what does it really mean?
3. Learn to change reactions. If a difficult person can’t be avoided, it will benefit you to learn to live with them. One method to embrace this type of person involves learning to change your reaction.
- You may be used to reacting to this person with anger or frustration. However, if you reacted with calmness and understanding, instead, not only will it put you in control of the interaction, but you might also discover a whole new facet of their personality.
- Practice this technique. When you’re interacting with them, take a short pause to breathe deeply and consider your next words to them. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings while responding with kindness.
4. Understand the importance of diversity. Difficult people are a normal part of the world. You can’t expect every person you encounter to be pleasant, polite, kind, or thoughtful. If everyone were the same, you would be bored!
- People come from a variety of backgrounds and personal history. Each person carries their own, unique emotional baggage that affects them.
- Their demeanor towards you likely has more to do with them than it does with you! Try not to take it personally.
5. Pay attention to their qualities – both positive and negative. In reflecting on their qualities, consider these points:
- What qualities in difficult people upset you the most? The same qualities may be hidden in your heart, and you may be repressing them.
- What positive qualities do they have that perhaps you’ve missed seeing? Would your interactions change if you saw more of those qualities? How could you encourage them to display them more often?
6. Try to help. A difficult person can challenge your ability to be helpful, but how can you make their life easier, so they’re less angry or agitated? How can you help them find stress relief?
- It’s easy to become defensive around a difficult person. Instead, try to see their point of view. Why are they angry or upset? Compassion can help you find another way to deal with the situation.
It’s important to keep in mind that even difficult people have feelings and can get hurt. They’re usually not heartless monsters. They need love and understanding just as much or more than anyone else. Change your reaction to them and you might even find a new friend.
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