From time to time, we all have difficult people we have to deal with in our lives. We all have someone that makes us want to scream! The difficult person in your life might be a co-worker, a friend, a family member or just an acquaintance. It could be a person you have to see daily or weekly or only occasionally. But when we see these people, it just seems that communication breaks down and frustrations rise. Today, I’m sharing ideas on how to deal with difficult people and stay calm.
For me, it seems like lately there have been several difficult people in my life. Honestly, I don’t always react well. I take things that are said to me very personally (even when I don’t have control of things these people are upset about).
Whether you are dealing with difficult family members or need to know how to deal with difficult friends, we all have times when we have to deal with difficult people in our lives. Because difficult people are a part of life, it’s important we learn to deal with difficult people calmly.
Why It’s Hard to Deal with Difficult People
When you have a conversation with a difficult person, have you noticed your reactions? Do you stay calm? Or does your blood pressure start to rise and it becomes harder to control your emotions? Ever wonder, why is it so hard to deal with difficult people?
First, dealing with difficult people can be frustrating. When we are trying to get things done and others are not working with us or put challenges in the way, it becomes frustrating for us. As our frustration rises, we get more upset and the situation just goes downhill.
Second, many times we feel like the person is attacking us personally. One of my personal biggest challenges in dealing with difficult people is to separate my personal feelings about the person and consider what they said objectively. I have to ask myself, does this person have a valid point?
Third, we are disappointed in people. There are times when we think someone is a friend and they will understand our thinking or what happened and they don’t or they “side” with another person. When we are disappointed in people, we lose trust in them and we feel betrayed.
Finally, because we are frustrated and we have taken comments and the situation personally and feel betrayed, we don’t respond well. We say things we don’t mean, we might use a tone we would normally not use.
When we recognize what is happening, it’s time to step back and take a deep breath and decide how we can deal calmly with a difficult person and situation.
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6 Steps for Dealing with Difficult People Calmly
Understand that it may not be about you
When I look back at the “difficult people” in my life and the situations that frustrate me, I usually need to understand the reason for this difficulty is probably not about me. Yes, I’m upset and feel other person wronged me, but most likely it wasn’t about me or anything I did at all.
I have learned (even though I still take it personally) that people will speak harshly to us when they are under pressure, have deadlines to meet or are stressed either personally or at work. Most of the time, these reasons have nothing to do with you.
Stay calm and do your best to resolve the situation. Recognize you don’t know everything about the other person and the challenges in life they might be having right now.
Recognize what you can change and what you cannot change
Many times we try to fix everything even the things we cannot fix.
What are things you can you change? You can change yourself and how you react and respond to challenging situations.
What are things you cannot change? Other people and how they react and respond. This part is so hard to accept. We try so hard to change other people. We believe that if we finally say the right thing they will be convinced to finally see it our way.
Accept you don’t have to win
That’s right, you don’t have to win. Sometimes when you push the situation too hard or too long you will do more damage than good by trying to win. Trust me on this one, I have made this mistake too many times. I know now that I have to accept that I cannot always have my way.
The harder you push to make something be your way, the more the other person might dig into their position and then nobody walks away happy.
Sometimes we just need to be gracious to others. They will say harsh things to us, they will say or do things we think are wrong or unfair, but we still need to be gracious.
You can’t go wrong being gracious. By showing kindness and grace to others, in turn, others may show kindness and grace to you.
By showing kindness and gracious to others, we are showing the kindness and graciousness God has given us to others, Psalm 117:2 (NKJV), “For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!”
Know the One who fights for you
We don’t have to fight our own battles, God will fight for us. If we have truly been wronged, the best thing we can do is let go and let God handle the situation. He will fight for you when you are not able, Exodus 14:14 (NKJV), “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
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Write your feelings in a journal
When we are frustrated and upset, one way to release our feelings without hurting others or making a difficult situation worse to write our feelings in a journal. With a journal, you can write how you feel and why you feel that way. You will be surprised the difference it can make when you write your feelings.
To be more positive, you can also write in a gratitude journal. Instead of writing about why you feel upset, think about all your blessings in life and what you have to be grateful for. A gratitude journal is also great for reflecting. When you have an upsetting experience, you are not defined by that person or that moment. Over time, you can reread all the wonderful things you have written in your gratitude journal and remember what’s really important.
The Smart Mom Gratitude Journal is a beautiful journal for moms to write down their daily thoughts of gratitude.
One last tip, on dealing with difficult people, sometimes (if it’s possible) it’s best to just walk away. Rather than say something you shouldn’t or that you will wish you hadn’t said, it’s best to walk away. In these situations, you will not get the last word, you will say something hurtful, then the other person will say something more hurtful and it will go on and on.
The next time you find yourself dealing with a difficult person, remember to stay calm and not focus on yourself.
How do you deal with difficult people? What helps you focus on the positive?