How To Deal With Difficult Personalities
If there is one thing sure thing in life, it is that at one point sooner or later everyone will encounter people who have difficult personalities.
Unfortunately dealing with such people can be an unpleasant experience and can test your patience. However, this article will give you some useful tips on how to deal with difficult people and rise above negativity!
Table of Contents
Types of Difficult People
Difficult people can be encountered at any point in life and can take a range of forms such as those who speak badly of you and negative people who continuously find the worst in every situation.
What makes an individual ‘difficult’ will be unique to each person as various people have different tolerance thresholds. However, challenging people can often be defined as having the five following traits:
The Moody Person
Moody people are hard to work with as they often don’t vocalise how they are feeling which can create a tense atmosphere and leave others second guessing why they are in a mood.
There can be multiple reasons as to why someone is moody but ultimately it should be up to the person to communicate to others why they are feeling a certain way.
Know it all Person
Know it all people can come across as being quite arrogant because they believe that they are right and are rarely open to listening to others point of view.
Working or living alongside a know it all person can be emotionally draining as they enjoy arguing their point which often results in belittling others viewpoints.
The Disguised Difficult Person
A disguised difficult person will appear to be friendly but talk badly of you when you’re not around.
This type of person appears to be kind, therefore, it can be hurtful when you discover that they’re not as genuine.
Passive Aggressive Person
Those who exhibit passive-aggressive tendencies usually engage in an indirect expression of hostility.
Through acts such as subtle insults and ignoring a person by not acknowledging their presence.
The Control Freak
People who are perfectionists and like to control situations are often difficult people to work alongside.
This is because they are regimented in their ways and often undermine others while taking command of situations.
How to Deal with Difficult Colleagues
It is important that the workplace is a positive environment for both employees and employers so that everyone feels comfortable coming to work and productivity levels are high.
However, having diverse groups of people working close to one another every day can often result in personality clashes which can lead to conflict or tension in the workplace.
Most arguments in the workplace derive from a breakdown in communication;
Often with one party not understanding what the other was meaning, therefore, it is crucial when you don’t understand a colleagues actions or response to ask them!
Asking from a place of genuine curiosity and not from a place of judgement will show the person that you want to learn their point of view and build a better workplace relationship with them.
Sometimes there can be an underlying reason for a difficult co-worker’s behaviour whether it is an issue going on in their personal or work life so it can be a good idea to take this into account if someone treats you unreasonably at work.
Talking through issues with co-workers can help you to become more tolerant of the person as you will learn their reasoning which in turn will help you to understand how to work with them.
In the occasion that a co-worker does not comply reasonably to improve their relations with others in the workplace, it is important to remember that you can choose your response to their behaviour by adopting a calm disposition and not rising to the bait.
This will show the person that the harmful behaviour that they are exhibiting is having no effect on you which may make them want to change their behaviour since they are not getting the reaction that they expected.
However, it is important to realise when co-workers behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with by management.
Verbal, physical abuse and bullying in the workplace is unacceptable in any organisation and needs to be reported to management which will investigate the case further through the Performance Management or Disciplinary system.
Dealing with Difficult Family Members
As the quote from To Kill a Mockingbird goes,
“You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family”.
When it comes to family relations there can be a degree of pressure to have the perfect family where everyone gets on. However, the “perfect family” does not exist, and it should be remembered that just because you are blood-related, it does not mean that you will always get on with your relatives.
In some cases, there can be a particular family member who is toxic and whose behaviour causes pain and sorrow to you.
The first thing that you should do if you experience a difficult relative is to figure out your role within the relationship dynamic. There can be different degrees of difficult personalities within a family, for example, a nosy rude aunt should be avoided at family parties.
But a bickering sibling will require more action to be taken as you will encounter their behaviour more regularly. Therefore, you should start by assessing the extent of the issue before moving on to discover how you could fix it.
Communication is the key to settling disputes, especially within a family, as often when there is a breakdown in communication that is when problems arise.
Approaching a relative who exhibits a difficult personality and asking to talk through any issues will show them that you are interested in listening. And also, that you do not have any negative emotions towards them which should help them feel comfortable opening up to you.
However, in the occasion that communication does not improve the situation it can be beneficial to take time out from interacting with the family member and think about implementing some boundaries.
Setting boundaries will allow yourself time and space away from the difficult family member which can help you to think more rationally about the situation.
Tips on How to Rise Above Difficult Personalities
You may not be able to control situations, but you can always control how you react to them. When encountering negative people and difficult situations it can be very easy to lose your temper and succumb to their irrational ways, however, reacting in this way is likely only to make the situation worse.
Instead, it is more effective to distance yourself emotionally from the situation and calmly tell the person that you will not engage in fighting.
Staying calm while dealing with a difficult person can be hard but taking slow deep breaths can help to regulate your breathing and gives you something to focus on to divert your attention.
You may think that because you work with a difficult colleague or live with a toxic family member that you have no way to escape their negativity, however, this does not need to be the case.
Although you may not be able to avoid altogether difficult personalities you can certainly minimise your encounters with them by assessing when and where you have to put up with them and where you do not.
For example, you may be required to work with a particularly aggressive co-worker on a specific project, but you do not need to be in their company at after work drinks on a Friday evening.
Exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response.
– Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University
Facing difficult people and negativity daily can quickly take its toll on your mind, so it is important to take active steps to preserve your mental health.
Maintaining regular exercises such as going for a walk or a run is vital to get rid of the build-up of adrenaline and stress that dealing with difficult people creates.
If dealing with difficult personalities is having a profound negative impact on your mental health, it is advisable to explore counselling options. Telling someone what you are facing will help you to not feel alone with your thoughts and that you’ll have someone to support you.
No one enjoys encountering difficult people but hopefully, these tips will help you to remain cool and composed when faced with challenging individuals.
It is also important to remember that difficult people’s issues are not your problem and that their attitude is a reflection on them, not you!
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