How to handle difficult people

We’ve all tried to reason with an unreasonable person. Whether it’s at work, or within your personal life. But sometimes you just can’t reason with a difficult person. However, here are a few handy techniques to help you navigate through these trying times.

However odd these tips might sound  at first, when you’re dealing with a highly unreasonable person the fear response part of your brain is activated. This part of the brain can’t distinguish between someone shouting at you or an imminent physical attack. Which means you need to engage your conscious mind to relax and defuse the scenario.

These tips will help shift your mindset from a fear and defensive approach to a calm and logical one.

  1. It’s so important to LISTEN. It might sound obvious, but deep listening is key when handling difficult people. Everyone, reasonable or not wants to be heard, and know they are making some form of impact. Therefore nothing can be resolved unless the pest in question feels acknowledged. Try to focus on what the person is actually saying and not what you’re going to say, it might change your original answer.
  2. Always stay calm and composed. When is a situation ever made better by being highly emotionally charged? It can make you over-emotional, angry, and view it entirely differently. Step back, apply some logic, and stay calm.
  3. Don’t be judgey. You have no idea what this seemingly unreasonable person is going through… not all battles are visible. The likelihood is that they are feeling a tinge of fear, or highly vulnerable as a person.
  4. Respect, respect, and a bit more respect. No matter how a person is treating you, showing contempt will not help the situation, but showing respect always will help.
  5. Identify a hidden agenda… question, what does this person need? Or, what is this person trying to avoid?
  6. Try not to get defensive – it’s never a good look. Obviously, you’re not enjoying the other person being unreasonable, and naturally, you’re going to want to defend yourself. Take a breath, and consider that this individual is emotionally charged, and isn’t being entirely logical, and most importantly try not to take it personally.

Next time you are in a difficult conversation or dealing with a particular unreasonable person, try these techniques, one, two or all of them, and you’ll feel calmer and happier with how you personally dealt with that person.

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