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Dealing with Difficult Problem People The Red and Blue Approach Erratic behavior is a powerful weapon because it defies accurate prediction. Often, the behavior comes as a surprise even to the person generating it. Seemingly out of the blue • Some people go to extraordinary lengths to be difficult. Think of the diva actress whose on-set needs can never be met or the boss who keeps moving the goal posts. The difficult person elevates the deliberate provocation to an art form. The underlying message is often, "Unless you agree with me and go along, you'll regret it." • One clue that a person is attempting to intimidate or manipulate you is the use of unpredictable, or protean, behavior—acts that are random and seemingly out of the blue. Hurting Ourselves Why yes we are in work environment but we to have our limits • I know it’s not easy, if it was easy, there wouldn’t be difficult or negative people to begin with. Why Bother Controlling Our Responses? • One of my favorite sayings is “Holding a grudge against someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The only person we hurt is ourselves. Charge! Warrior or Wimp Or Knight and Peacekeeper • We usually regret having charged into battle—or at least we wonder what we were thinking. And that's just it: We weren't thinking. An emotional reaction bypasses thoughtful deliberation. No rational person today would engage in an argument with a random person on the street. But if someone bumps into us, blocks our way or otherwise wants to hassle us, our immediate inclination is to freeze, fight or flee. Similarly, our immediate response to the verbal slights or manipulative barbs of a difficult person is often to fight back. Your immediate reaction is, "I can't stand this crazy, insulting behavior." The Statement holds Strength You – Them - Us It’s Not About You, It’s About Them • I’ve learned that when people initiate negativity, it is a reflection of their inner state expressed externally and you just happen to be in front of that expression. It’s not personal, so why do we take it personally? In short: Because our ego likes problems and conflict. Ego, the Id and the Super Id Battle of the Ego • When we respond impulsively, it is a natural and honest response. However, is it the smart thing to do? What can be resolved by doing so? The answer: Nothing. It does however feed our ego’s need for conflict. Go sock your head Anger Feeds Anger. Negativity Feeds Negativity. • Rarely can any good come out of reacting against someone who is in a negative state. It will only trigger anger and an additional reactive response from that person. If we do respond impulsively, we’ll have invested energy in the defending of ourselves and we’ll feel more psychologically compelled to defend ourselves going forward. Five minutes in life I will not get back! Waste of Energy • Where attention goes, energy flows. What we focus on tends to expand itself. Since we can only focus on one thing at a time, energy spent on negativity is energy that could have been spent on our personal wellbeing. Resist He said She said WHAT! Negativity Spreads • I’ve found that once I allow negativity in one area of my life, it starts to subtly bleed into other areas as well. When we are in a negative state or holding a grudge against someone, we don’t feel very good. We carry that energy with us as we go about our day. When we don’t feel very good, we lose sight of clarity and may react unconsciously to matters in other areas of our lives, unnecessarily. I have the RIGHT, so! Freedom of Speech • People are as entitled to their opinions as you are. Allow them to express how they feel and let it be. Remember that it’s all relative and a matter of perspective. What we consider positive can be perceived by another as negative. When we react, it becomes me-versus-you, who is right? • They have the right to express their own opinions and we have the right and will power to choose our responses. We can choose peace or we can choose conflict. No Headache No Problem Accept the situation. Impossible people exist; there isn't a thing you can do about it. The first step is all about facing reality: if you think you might be dealing with an impossible person, you're probably right. When in doubt, proceed as instructed below. The headaches you save will be your own Remember to "detach, disassociate and diffuse – Detach: Staying calm in the heat of the moment is paramount to your personal preservation. Spitting angry words, reacting with extreme emotions such as crying, will only stimulate them to do more of the difficult behavior. – Disassociate: Remove yourself from the situation and treat it with indifference. Do not, under any circumstances bad talk to their face or to anyone else because then you are sinking down to their level. Add something positive by redirection such as by focusing on something, anything, positive in the situation or in the conversation. Whatever you do just stay calm! – Diffuse: It can help to realize that the side of a conversation that contains the most truth will always win out, and it's best to "name the game" that an impossible person is playing, usually by asking them or the group a question that starts "Why...," (rephrasing their "impossible" position to illuminate the consequences). But thoughts do cross your mind Guard against anger. If it helps, consider the fact that your anger is actually a precious gift to the impossible person. Anything you do or say while angry will be used against you over and over again. Impossible people tend to have amazing memories, and they will not hesitate to use a nearly endless laundry list of complaints from the past against you. Be the Manager not the Managed Be a manager. Until it is over, your task in the relationship is to manage the impossible person, so that he or she deals less damage to you. – As a manager, your best resources are silence (it really is golden in some cases such as this), humoring the other, and abandoning all hope of "fixing" the impossible person. Impossible people do not listen to reason. They can't (and even if they could, they wouldn't). – Recognize that you can't convince them that they have any responsibility for the problems between you. They don't recognize (or if they did, wouldn't try to improve) their flaws for a very logical reason; they don't have any flaws. Oil and Water or Gas and Matches • Consider that it might be a question of compatibility. Sometimes, a person who gets along with everybody else quite well is an impossible person for you personally. Most relationships between people contain many shades of gray, but some people simply mix as well as oil and water. Allow others to save Face Staying Rational When Confronting the Difficult Person Protect your self-esteem. • If you have regular dealings with someone who tries to portray you as the source of all evil, you need to take active steps to maintain a positive self-image. – Remind yourself that this person's opinion is not necessarily the truth. Understand that oftentimes, impossible people are particularly "fact-challenged." Not a necessity • We too quickly jump to our own defense when we feel insulted. We do so because we have evolved a hyper vigilant concern for our standing among peers. This focus on status makes sense as a play for dominance and power, qualities that translate into real mating options. The need to retain status is an example of Neanderthink. This knee-jerk demand for status can push us to get outraged and to lose focus on larger goals, such as keeping your job or your mate. We want to prove that we are correct—but doing it angrily and intolerantly can hinder your major objectives. Dominance at every turn is good, but not a necessity. The Power of Nine They call me Bruce Here's 9 tips which I've found to work in dealing with such people: Be calm. Understand the person's intentions. Get some perspective from others. Let the person know where you are coming from. Build a rapport. Treat the person with respect. Focus on what can be actioned upon. Ignore. Escalate to a higher authority for resolution. Self Safety Not Self Protection • Involve other people carefully. If you have failed to settle a dispute with another person, then (and only then) consider bringing in other people to help with a resolution. Just be certain that the difficult person knows you will be bringing in someone else for help. • If all else fails, minimize interactions. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you will not be able to improve your relationship with a colleague, boss, or customer. In that case, either eliminate all interaction with the person (that’s probably not possible if the difficult person is your boss!) or minimize the time spent with him/her as much as possible. Your #1 responsibility is to keep yourself happy. Don’t become the Problem Case No Truer Statement was Made • Ask Albert! Think about the statement and the solution! Not the conclusion.
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