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Dealing with Difficult People

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.
Mark Van Doren

"Research shows that supportive relationships are good for our mental and physical health," writes Elizabeth Scott, MS, on the website. "However, dealing with chronically 'difficult' people and maintaining ongoing negative relationships can actually be detrimental to our health. The toll of the stress can affect us emotionally and physically. Because of this, it’s a good idea to diminish or eliminate relationships that are filled with conflict whenever possible. But what do you do if the person in question is a family member, co-worker, or someone you otherwise can’t easily eliminate from your life?" Scott provides a number of tips for dealing with the difficult people in your life that you can’t avoid. Here are a few of those tips:

"Keep Conversations Neutral
Avoid discussing divisive and personal issues, like religion and politics, or other issues that tend to cause conflict...

Accept The Reality of Who They Are
In dealing with difficult people, don’t try to change the other person; you will only get into a power struggle, cause defensiveness, invite criticism, or otherwise make things worse. It also makes you a more difficult person to deal with.

Know What's Under Your Control
Change your response to the other person; this is all you have the power to change. For example, don’t feel you need to accept abusive behavior. You can use assertive communication to draw boundaries when the other person chooses to treat you in an unacceptable way.

Create Healthier Patterns
Remember that most relationship difficulties are due to a dynamic between two people rather than one person being unilaterally ‘bad.’ Chances are good that you're repeating the same patterns of interaction over and over; changing your response could get you out of this rut, and responding in a healthy way can improve your chances of a healthier pattern forming…

See the Best In People
Try to look for the positive aspects of others, especially when dealing with family, and focus on them."

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