Earlier this week, I spent time with two perfectly pleasant individuals who, on the surface appeared to really dislike each other. No matter what they discussed, it always seemed to finish in a disagreement and sometimes they disagreed before the discussion started!
Upon reviewing this with them both individually, they said that they found the other person really difficult, challenging and stubborn.
This reminded me of the times I have found certain people in my life particularly challenging, rude and sometimes obnoxious. We all have these people in our lives, even now someone has popped into your head while reading this!
What we normally do with these people is either to fight fire with fire, defending our cause to the death and reflecting the rude behaviour they showed. Or we retract inwardly, making our interactions the minimum they have to be.
It may come as a surprise, but I have discovered neither is a good strategy!
A few years ago, I decided this had to change, that I had to change. I did lots of research and I interviewed people who are saintly when interacting with others. Here is what I have learnt and maybe these approaches can help you deal with that really annoying person in your life:
1. Understand what a difficult person is.
In its simplest terms, this will be a person who has a different perception or perspective than you and will communicate that in a way that pokes at your value system.
For example, if a key value you hold is respectfulness and you believe that the way to demonstrate respect is listening to the other person without interruption – then you find that someone who continually interrupts you with disagreements to your perspective, you are highly likely going to find that person difficult to deal with.
So with that in mind, it is important to appreciate the fact that other people can have a different perspective than you AND YOU CAN BOTH BE RIGHT.
2. Ask “What is going on in their world at the moment?”
The overwhelming majority of people will see themselves as ‘the good guys’ and do not deliberately spend their lives trying to be a difficult, obnoxious person! The reality is that there will normally be an external stress or pressure somewhere in that person’s life to cause the bad behaviour. Except this and you can easily stop taking their actions as a personal attack.
One particular example of this has stuck with me. I once opened a door to get into a building and a woman walking the other way barged past me without a word. I was offended by this rude behaviour instantly and sarcastically shouted “Thank you” in her general direction. I later found out that she had just been told that her son had been in a serious car accident and was rushing to the hospital to find out if he was okay. Who was the difficult and obnoxious person?
3. Ask “What does this person need?”
As described above, bad behaviour is rarely a hobby for people, so understanding that the difficult person you are dealing with will need something in that moment is important. Do they need a break from the discussion? Do they need to be listened to? Or maybe they need encouragement?
4. Listen to understand… Don’t listen to defend!
Listening to defend is letting the other person speak, just so you can gather more information to argue your point! This is literally useless and will not improve the relationship one bit!
It is common sense that understanding others point of view is critical in building relationships, rapport, gaining trust and creating a collaborative working relationship. Common sense is sometimes just not common practice. The key factor here is to take accountability to understand them first, don’t expect them to listen to you first.
5. Clearly communicate your own perspective.
Again this sounds obvious, but this is a common mistake.We assume everyone knows what we know and see what we see.
Don’t assume they see ANYTHING the same as you – people are not mind readers, don’t expect them to be.
I remember a time that I had an argument with my then girlfriend about the colour we should paint the bathroom (Yes -really). Anyway just based on the fact that we were stood in different places in the room, we couldn’t agree on the colour. We literally had a fight about this until I stood in the same place and she was, then I realised that the colour I liked looked awful when the light hit it a certain way!
I assumed she could see the same as what I could see… Never assume!
I hope you enjoyed this post and it help’s you in your relationships with those difficult, annoying people in your life! Remember it’s only fair to share, so please share this post!!