How to Deal with Difficult People

How to Deal with 
Difficult People

Not Today "Karen" . . . 

I really DO feel bad for anyone named Karen, I'm so sorry your name is now synonymous with a difficult person. 

But when I say "Karen" you know exactly the type of difficult person I'm talking about! Difficult people come in many forms, sometimes they're difficult all the time, sometimes they're just difficult at certain times or certain conversations.   Dealing with difficult people, both in person and on line, is a HUGE source of stress for us; and you know that increased stress is going to totally hamper your health, wellness, and weight loss progress.  

Difficult people might be family, friends, co-workers, online etc. and they might show up like:
- blaming others and not taking responsibility for their part in a situation
- often complain more than praise, negative
- may be angry, argumentative, aggressive, or passive aggressive
- self-centered, always think they're right, don't listen to other ideas, talk down to people
- and tons of other ways!

There ARE very effective ways you can learn to deal with difficult people, but it will take you some practice.  The 5 strategies I'll outline in this episode will be SUPER effective and you can start practicing them right now with any of the difficult people in your life.  But always remember - you can't change anyone, you are only in control of YOUR thoughts, emotions, actions, and reactions.  You are always in control of how much you let difficult people affect you. 


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Full transcription available at the bottom of this post

Show Notes: 

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Full Transcript: 

Welcome to August, I don't know when you're listening to this, but at the time of recording, it's August 2022. And this month for the four episodes of August, we're going to take a break from diet and exercise talk to focus a bit on our mental health and specifically, relationships. We can't talk about total health, no nonsense wellness, if you will, unless we talk about the whole you in the context of your whole life. So in this episode, we're talking about how to deal with difficult people. We all have some difficult people in our lives. And if we can learn to deal with them more effectively, our entire health status can improve. Because remember, one of the biggest issues holding you back from your weight loss, wellness and health goals is stress. So if we can relieve some stress by improving our relationships, that's winning. So listen up today for five strategies to effectively deal with difficult people. Let's go.

Welcome back to the no nonsense wellness podcast, the place for women who are trying to do all the things and stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy life at the process. Hey, I'm Tara, a trained therapist, a life coach, a nutrition coach and a fitness instructor. And I'm on a mission to help you take back control of your mind health and life. Each week, I'll be cutting through the nonsense and getting real with you. I'll bring you the insight and information you need to take control of your weight and health, find food freedom, and finally break free from the thoughts that are sabotaging you and holding you back. You, my friend are powerful, and the world needs you to start showing up in a bigger way. It's time to get unstuck and start moving forward. So let's pop in those earbuds, tie up those shoes, let's walk and talk. 

First, we should really talk about what is a difficult person, what makes them a difficult person. So it's kind of hard to categorize this because it's going to be different for different people, right? The person I might consider really difficult, you might not. But for me, and I think we could speak in generalities. A difficult person I would define as someone who lacks empathy or concern for other people, someone who really refuses to see another point of view, but at the same time, thinks that they know everything and that any other point of view they just disagree with Anyways, if it's not theirs, because they're the smartest, they know everything. They're always right. They think they're superior, they know more than everyone else, they talk down to people. To me, a difficult person doesn't listen, they dominate conversations, they like to make everything about them. They feel everyone needs to agree with them all the time, because they're always right. They might often complain or whine they might generally be negative, they're sort of an energy suck when you're trying to talk to them. A difficult person might show up as really rude or short or angry, or aggressive or even passive aggressive, passive aggressive, sort of looks like that person is really hard to have a conversation with because in the moment, they're like being very agreeable. And then later, they get really angry because they didn't actually agree with you. But they didn't say that. And now they're resentful of you because they didn't speak up about how they felt about something that's pretty passive aggressive, that's a difficult person to deal with. Because you never know if you're getting an honest answer from them. You're probably thinking at this point of a few people in your life who might be categorized as a difficult person. Maybe it's a family member, a friend, a co worker, people online that you converse with online, difficult people are all over the place. We now have a word for them. Karen's right. We now call some difficult people Karen's sorry, if your name is Karen, I apologize. That really sucks for you. So that's just sort of my general take on like what difficult people might show up as in your life. 

So how do we deal with these people? It depends on the situation, obviously. And it depends on your relationship with those people. But what I'm going to do is, again, give you some kind of general ideas and general strategies for dealing with them so that you stay safe In unhealthy and less stress for you, okay? So the first strategy is really you, we have to stop giving so much mental and emotional energy to that difficult person, there's a good chance that you're thinking about this way too much you are thinking about that person or the conversation with that person, way too much, and it's stressing you out. Difficult People are absolute energy sucks mental energy and emotional energy, because you're thinking about them, not just when you're having the interaction with them. But then outside of that interaction as well. You're still thinking about that all the time, to be honest with yourself. Have you ever created fake scenarios and roleplays in your head with that difficult person? Like? She says this now? I would say this? And then I would say that, and then she's probably going to be like this. And that,

I would say that, right? Have you ever done that? I certainly have, I have stood in the shower, and roleplayed that conversation, how I wished it would have gone in my head 1000 times, I am giving way too much mental and emotional energy to this person, it's not worth it. Because all it does is stress me out. And it doesn't change the situation at all. So what you need to do then is knock it off. Not only are you getting stressed out unnecessarily, but when you then try to have the actual conversation with that person, you are coming into that conversation already frustrated, already on edge before it even starts. And guess what happens now, that's gonna go really poorly for you. So stop letting that difficult person, dictate your emotional state, you've got to stay calm when you're around them. And when you're not around them, you are in charge of you play. So you need to be really honest with yourself about how much mental energy you are giving this person in this situation. 

Okay, strategy number two, sometimes can be hard, but it is absolutely necessary. And that is having some empathy. We really have to get past our frustration with the difficult person and get to a place of empathy, really trying to understand what's going on for them and where they're coming from. One of the reasons that you see this person as a difficult person, is because they won't see other people's point of view. So why then would you be someone who won't see someone else's point of view? Now you're being the difficult one, right? So if we want them to try and understand us, we first have to try and understand them. That super rude neighbor that never says hi and always yells at your dog, you don't know what they've got going on in their life, you don't know what they've been through or what they're currently going through, you will never know someone else's struggles, because probably they won't tell you, you could never possibly know everything that they are bringing to the table at any given time. So we really have to check ourselves. Give them some grace, give them some forgiveness, there is always a way that you can find empathy for someone else. Have a gentle heart, release the judgment. I certainly wouldn't want someone to judge me. In my worst moments and my worst days, certainly, there are people in this world who at different times, thought that I was being difficult because I was having a hard time and I probably was being difficult. I would not want to be judged based on that performance. Okay. So it's up to us then also to not judge other people based on that performance. Maybe they're not difficult all the time. Maybe in this situation. They're difficult because they're really going through something, we need to be empathetic to that. We need to really try and understand that. Does that make sense? This can be super hard, but it's the only way that you're going to find peace for yourself. And I'm not being trite when I say pray for that person. They need your prayers. And while you're praying for that person, ask for some patients for yourself as well. 

Okay, strategy number three, silence is golden. When you are talking to this difficult person or you're having a difficult conversation with a person who in the moment is being difficult. Listen, just listen, listen quietly. Don't interrupt. Let them get out what is bothering them, let them get it off their chest. Don't be reactive. You need to stay calm. You need to slow everything down. Do not jump in. Do not interject, do not voice your opinion. Let them just get it out. difficult people tend to want to dominate the conversation. And sometimes, again, people who are maybe not a difficult person, but in this conversation, they are being a difficult person, they want to dominate dominate that conversation because they are frustrated, they need to get something out. So instead of trying to get your voice heard, just be a good listener, and then be a good question. Asker asking questions actually puts you in control of a conversation. So no matter how much they're trying to dominate by voicing that they think this and they need this and they are correct, and everyone else is wrong. Asking questions actually puts you in the driver's seat of that conversation. Questions

like, how did you come to that conclusion? How do we know that that's true? What evidence do you have to that effect? Why do you say that? What makes you feel that way? ask good questions. That's going to be key to having a conversation with a difficult person. And here's the thing, you don't have to solve whatever the problem is, right? Then you don't have to agree with them. You don't have to find some point where you agree, you might not agree on anything. It's okay. You don't have to solve the problem in that conversation. It's okay, you can ask a lot of questions that will lead them to solving their own problem. Now, this tip I got from my husband, because he does this really, really well, in his business conversations. He does not tell people what he thinks he wants them to do, or what he thinks is the right thing to do or what the next step is, he asked them a lot of questions so that they come up with what they think is the next right step. And he will either agree or disagree. So when you're having a difficult conversation, asking questions that lead that person to solve their own problem is going to be a skill that you can start working on. And it's okay to leave that conversation without a solution to the problem. That's okay. And if you're not talking about solving a problem, like say, with a co worker, when you're just having a difficult conversation, and one person's just dominating it, and you can't get a word in Fine, fine, because really, what is the point of arguing with that person? They are not going to hear a word you said. So why try, you can ask a lot of questions. And I have found this in my life to be super useful. I can't, it's not helpful for me to interject what I think, okay, they don't want to hear it in this conversation. But if I ask questions about what they think, oftentimes I can get them to reevaluate what they're thinking, why are they thinking that? Where did they get that idea from? What are they even basing that idea on? If I can get them to reevaluate what they think then we are making progress in the conversation? That is not going to happen? If I am trying to interject what I think does that make sense? They're not going to ask me what I think so I am not going to interject that, but I am going to ask a lot of really good questions. That's a skill that you can work on. Okay, we can all work on that skill. 

And I also want you to just check yourself, like when you're coming into that conversation, make sure that you're coming into that conversation with an energy of curiosity, okay, not of blaming, not of shaming, not of overruling them, because now you're being the difficult person, if you're blaming and shaming and overruling, that's what they're doing that you don't like. So why would you then do that? Okay. Come into that conversation with an energy of curiosity. Okay, I want to find out more, I want to understand more make sense? You have to be quiet in order to do that. And you have to ask good questions in order to do that. 

The next strategy is getting better at setting boundaries, you might need to limit the interaction time that you have with this person. And it might sound harsh, but there have been a few people and like less than a handful less than I would count on one hand that I have actually had to cut out of my life, people that I can no longer interact with. And I know there's sometimes it's your family member, and that's hard to just cut people out. But if you can, sometimes you just need to not interact with that person anymore. Okay? If I'm being honest, those few people were more than just difficult. They were there's a whole lot more happening there. But you can cut people off and not engage with their crazy, you can do that. You have the power to do that. If you can't completely just stop interacting with someone. You've that something, someone that you need to interact with, say like a family member or an ex spouse, right? You're dealing with child issues with your ex spouse, you can set really clear boundaries and expectations about how that communication is going to go. So that might look like setting a severe very specific timeframe, I only have 15 minutes to talk to you about this thing. Okay, I'm not going past 15 minutes. So whatever what needs to happen needs to happen in those 15 minutes, set a really clear agenda for how that conversation is going to go so that you stay on that topic only. So let's say you're talking with your ex about, you know, holiday time with the kids or whatever the topic is,

whose house are they going to, and when at Christmas, we are not talking about anything, except that we're not talking about the marriage, we're not talking about, you know, your new girlfriend, we're not nothing. We are talking only about this, you need to set really clear agenda for that conversation. And then you also need to have boundaries about what you will and will not talk about. So going beyond, let's say, an ex, but maybe with a co worker or with a family member, I am willing to talk about these things with you, I am not willing to have this other conversation with you. That's not happening. You need to have real clear boundaries about that. Okay, you can set those boundaries. And yes, you can say that out loud. I will be happy to discuss this issue with you. But we are not going to talk about this issue right now. Okay, you are in charge of that you can set that boundary, you have to say it out loud to that other person. 

This especially applies to social media, we need some boundaries around social media. Probably the most difficult people you deal with in your life are those trolls who hide behind their keyboards and they say horrible things on social media that if confronted by you, to their face would never say out loud to you. These are the easiest people to cut off, delete, right? Gone, you don't need to interact with that person. Guess what, even if it's a family member, you don't need to interact with that person on social media. I have friends who have shown me things that their family members have posted on social media that they would never say to their family in real life, or to their face, or really to anyone else. But for some reason, there's this safety barrier on social media where we feel like if we're just typing it into the keyboard, it's not we're not really saying it to a person. And we can just say whatever horrible, awful thing that we want to. Well, guess what, you don't have to listen, you don't have to look. You don't have to listen, you don't have to engage. You can ignore that person. You can unfollow them, you can shadow banned them, whatever. I don't even know the terms on social media. But you can even like not unfollow them, but just not see their posts anymore. That's totally a thing. You are in charge of this. If you find yourself wanting to engage and argue with this difficult person online, check yourself girl before you wreck yourself, you need to stop, do not engage, cut it off, ignore, move on, get rid of them on social media, okay, it is not worth your mental energy. 

And the last strategy is this, you might be the problem.

If there's a lot of people in your life that you consider difficult, the difficult person might actually be you. Now, I want you to get non judgmental, but really honest about whether or not you recognize any of these things in yourself. The things that we've already talked about, or any of these things that I'm going to say. You tend to blame others for problems, that looks like not taking responsibility or not understanding the part maybe you played in a situation but always blaming someone else for something going wrong. You find yourself complaining more than praising or being thankful? Do you always call your boss up to complain about something? Are you always sending a complaint email, but never a thank you email? You might be the difficult person. You feel the need to fight to prove that you're right. Are you arguing back online in the comments of a Facebook post? Your being the difficult person stop arguing? Stop feeling the need to fight to prove that you're right. No one's listening. They don't care because they already think they're right. Especially on social media. Do you frequently get into arguments? Do you see most situations or people as competition co workers or competition people online or competition? People in the same business arena as you competition? If you're seeing people as competition instead of people who can who you could build up or be built up by CES, you might be the difficult one here. 

So this is going to be for some a very hard pill to swallow. That you might be the difficult one. Here's the good news. If you notice any of these things about yourself, right because what you notice, you can change. And that's awesome. So all you're going to do is go back up to those other strategies we just talked about, and you're going to start incorporating those strategies. Because those strategies that we just talked about, would take a difficult person to a much easier person to interact with. Okay, so all those strategies we already talked about, you're just going to start employing those. And guess what, magically, you become less and less of the difficult person. Now, again, I freely admit that there would probably be situations where someone would tell you that I was being a difficult person, we all have been, because we all we all get stuck in thoughts and feelings that we have a hard time getting past, we all have done that. So, so don't judge yourself. If you're like, Oh, crap, she really called me out, I definitely have done this. So, please don't judge yourself, please don't place judgment on yourself. Give yourself so much grace, and so much, so much empathy and recognize you were going through some stuff, and you weren't dealing with it maybe very well. But now you have more skills and tools to be able to deal with it better, you have more skills and tools be able to move forward in a more productive way. Please don't judge yourself, please don't get down on yourself. Give yourself a ton of grace here. Because we've all been there. Okay. 

And remember, ultimately, you have no control over what anyone else does, says, thinks you cannot change them, you have to stop trying to we cannot change other people. Maybe your family member is the difficult person. And every conversation feels just exhausting, because of how they act, and they have to be right and they just don't listen, and they dominate everything. It's exhausting. But guess what, you can't do anything about it. You can be a good listener, you can find empathy, you can manage your own thoughts and feelings, but you can't change them. So stop trying to change them. It is stressing you out. And it's and it's taking way too much mental and emotional energy for you. Be in control of you. And that's all you can do. You only have control over your own thoughts and your own feelings and your own actions and your own reactions to those people. That's what you're in control of. So

stay there. Okay. I hope this was really helpful, I hope if you needed to get called out on some things you did with love. And I hope that these were some good strategies that you could start employing to deal with some of the difficult people or just difficult conversations that you have in your life because we will have them we will continue to have it's not going away. Okay, and stay tuned for the rest of this month because we're going to talk about some more relationship stuff. Next episode is going to be how to be more assertive. And we're also going to talk about narcissism and how to deal with a narcissist and how to get out of relationship with a narcissist. And we're also going to have a conversation about trauma and how past trauma is probably affecting your health and wellness results. So we've got a lot of juicy stuff coming up in August so make sure and stay tuned. Every Friday a new episode drops. So until we talk again, my friends, be well. 

Hey, friends, thanks so much for being here. If you found value in today's episode, will you do me a favor and head over to iTunes? Find the no nonsense wellness podcast and subscribe and leave me a review. It would mean the world to me and help other people find the show. And I'd love to connect with you more. So find me on Instagram I'm@tarafaulmann take a screenshot of this episode and share it in your stories and tag me. I'll see you over there.

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