In life, we will always come across difficult people. We can’t always expect people to be essentially rational and to know that human nature makes them irrational will help in your social interactions. Most people are capable of fulfilling their social obligations in a normal way, despite being ruled by their emotions. But the ability to maintain a job, raise your children in a healthy environment, obey the law, and be responsible for your actions can often depend on your mental and social development, and most people act the way they were taught. Therefore, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle difficult people.
1. No Judgment
Regardless of how you feel about the person or situation, keeping judgment out of the interaction will assist in keeping it pleasant. We are often forced to interact with people of different moral stature, different lifestyle choices, or of different social status. During these interactions, keeping your judgment to yourself and overlooking the differences between you will allow you to concentrate on the subject of the conversation rather than the person.
2. Learn to Listen
We often like to believe we are right, regardless of whether it is true or not. When we believe we are right, we seldom listen to opposing sides. By listening to the other person and taking their views into consideration, you can bridge the gap and come to a better resolution. Listening and compromising is not the same as losing, but is rather a method to dilute a difficult situation.
3. Be Firm
As important as it is to be compassionate and non-judgmental, it is also important to not let people manipulate you. Being firm doesn’t always mean losing your temper and yelling. Most difficult people will try to manipulate you to bring you to their side of thinking and drag you into a confrontation. Not allowing these people to bully you while keeping your cool is a vital way to get your point across. Treat people with kindness, but don’t let them control you.
4. Discover what Matters
There is a reason you are involved in the confrontation. Whether it is work related, personal, or you are trying to get information, keeping your focus on what you’re working towards will help you get through many different difficult confrontations. Regardless of how you feel about the person or the situation, do your best to keep on track and get what you need from it. You don’t have to feel strongly for everyone you meet in the course of your life, you just have to feel strongly about your values and beliefs.
There is always a chance you will run into a difficult person as part of your everyday routine. How you handle these confrontations not only affect the outcome but will also help define the type of person you are. Engaging in heated arguments, applying judgment, and losing your temper will shadow the real reason you are there in the first place. Human beings can be ruled by emotions, but in social interactions, this doesn’t have to be a total disadvantage. Realize the emotional state of everyone you come in contact with and offer the empathy needed to help them feel at ease. This will prove your best weapon in dealing with difficult people.
Brent Davis is a writer for various sites on topics related to psychology and human behavior. If you have a knack for diffusing difficult situations, perhaps a degree in social work from socialwork.une.edu or nyu.edu is the right career path for you.