Dealing with Difficult People is Easy – NOT!

What if everyone was easygoing, amiable, logical, sensible and saw things just the way you did? Well, then my friend, you would be dreaming!

Wake up! Getting along with some people is hard, frustrating and can down right makes you want to quit your job now and then. If you are in healthcare, a lot of the people you are dealing with are ill, exhausted and in pain – and that may just be your co-workers, never mind your patients! J

But hold on and read on, Nellie – help is on the way.

As a  nurse, I like to know the rationale for things. So first we need to know why is it worth our time to try and fix this issue and the ‘why’ had better be good or we may not want to invest our efforts into problem solving.

Here are a few of ‘whys’ that make my list:

  • The relationship between us is important (or important to my job)
  • We realize that people who are hurting, hurt others (and we care about people who are hurting)
  • We want to reduce the stress, anxiety and tension that this difficult relationship causes us

 

All good reasons to try to mend the relationship, perhaps you have your own reason to add?

Ideas for dealing with the challenges are as varied as the challenges themselves. I present you with a few things to think about:

  1. Don’t take it personally. Understand their behaviour is likely more about where they are at than about you – remember hurt people sometimes hurt people.
  2. Talk to them privately. Not in the heat of the moment, not in front of others. Come from a place of curiosity.  Ask “Are you trying to…make me feel bad, hurt my feelings, upset me etc.”  or “Is this really about … or is there something else going on.” Or a question that may open up a dialogue to uncover something profound.
  3. If necessary, apologize.  A sincere apology using the words, tone and body language to accurately convey your message may go a long way.  Sometimes even though we did not do anything wrong, a sincere offer that we are sorry they are hurting may help.
  4. Share some information about yourself.  It is easy for people who know nothing about you to feel nothing for you.  The more they know about you the more , the more likely they are to like you, the more they like you, they less likely they are to be hostile towards you.
  5. Take the high road.  When all else fails, treat them like you would like to be treated and model positive behaviour.  If nothing else, it will annoy them quite a bit!  J

In the end, a dash of patience, humor and acceptance can’t hurt either. Develop a mantra that you can repeat over and over to help you save your sanity.

Dealing with difficult people is not necessarily easy, but with a desire to make things better, resources to help you and hope that you will find a way, we can take steps to make it less difficult.

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