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How to Deal With Difficult People

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Whether it’s a toxic workplace, a tough relationship, or the increasingly divided political spectrum, it seems like it can be impossible to see progress in difficult relationships. We can’t control the circumstances around us, but we can indirectly influence them by the way we treat the most challenging people in our lives. 

It’s important to not write off the strenuous people around you. You might be able to justify it; like how someone may be rude to you or not appreciate what you do; maybe they always say negative things. But we’ll never be able to get away from it. We will always face these challenges. The trick is to not run away from difficult people but to learn how to interact with them and influence those relationships for the better.

When we learn to deal with difficult people, we live better lives. At work, we’re more likely to be productive and innovative with our co-workers and bosses. In our relationships, we see progress, set positive boundaries, and find a fulfilling purpose in our interactions. 

If we focus on the following core principles, we can improve our relationships with difficult personalities.

1. Listen, Then Wait

It’s easy to identify the things that frustrate us about someone. It’s much harder to understand who they are and why they act as they do. The latter approach gives a future and hope for progress when dealing with people.

The best is to learn as much as possible about the person by asking them questions. When you identify a subject or interest they are passionate about, continue to feed the conversation and encourage them to say more. When we practice this social habit, we connect with the people we talk to. We show respect and signify that they matter. 

When we listen, we listen patiently. As the other party approaches the end of the conversation, if they feel like you connected with them, they’ll more than likely invite your input. Since you gave them undivided attention, you are now credible in their eyes and what you say carries more weight. This is when you can add value to the conversation and begin to influence the person.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” – Ralph Nichols

2. Reinforce Your Relationship

Listening opens the door for us. Once the person trusts us, we can begin to establish and redefine the relationship. When you speak positive and encouraging things into their life, they will begin to receive it.

Tell that person how much you admire or enjoy them. Be specific through your communication. You can talk about talent, a recent accomplishment, or something that has gone unnoticed. The most impactful thing you can do is compliment something about their character. 

We often think bad about ourselves. When we speak life into someone that’s irrelevant to their output, but to who they are as a person, they will appreciate it and remember it forever. 

An effective way to reinforce your relationship is when you happen to be in the other person’s environment or arena. Some of the best interviews are done when the guest makes sure to praise the host by referencing their book or a piece of work they did in the past throughout the context of the interview. They often get invited back and the host has a positive impression (even if they completely disagree on the subject). When we honor difficult people in places that they value the most, we show appreciation and respect.

3. Understand the Person

The primary reason we may see someone as “difficult” is that we lack context. A friend of mine had a hard time seeing progress in his relationship with his grandfather. His grandpa was rude, showed little affection, and always made things more difficult. He finally started listening to his story. 

His grandfather’s mother died in childbirth the day he was born. One of his younger siblings died partially of his fault by not keeping an eye on him. He lived through the Great Depression and was a refugee. It wasn’t until my friend understood what his grandfather went through, that he could look beyond small offenses and appreciated his relationship. While there is no excuse to let someone treat you badly, you can at least guide that person and influence them once you know their story.

Ask yourself about that person, “What drives them? What motivates them? Why are they the way that they are?” Once we can answer those questions, we can begin to repair and understand the relationship. We know how to communicate with them.

“To be interesting, be interested.” – Dale Carnegie

4. Make Progress

Not every relationship can be repaired or reach optimal health, but we can do our best to make it functional and respectful. When we switch our goal from avoiding someone to making progress, we are more likely to see positive results. 

This does not mean we should take on toxic or harmful relationships, but it does mean we should consider making progress with the people that are in our lives and tough to be around with.

When we follow these steps, we soon find common ground. We’ve learned from them and have developed an authentic relationship. This progress gives us room to establish healthy growth, respectful boundaries, and a better experience. 

How do you deal with difficult people? Share your tactics and experiences with us below!

John Paul Hernandez is a copywriter and business strategist that provides value to companies and their customers through ReadySetCopy.com. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him in Little Havana leaning by a ventanita, sipping his cafecito. You can follow him on Twitter @TeamJohnH.

Life

Knowing Your Message vs Delivering Your Message

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Have you ever sent a text message only to have it misinterpreted by the person reading it? Happens all the time. Have you ever given a presentation that you were totally prepared for only to have it fall flat? Happens all the time. Have you ever had someone ask you something like, “Why are you mad?” when you were not at all mad? Happens all the time. (more…)

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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Life

​​4 Boss Level Growth Strategies That Create an Optimized Life

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Building a business is about more than sales, marketing, and flexing on social media. While those things tend to draw attention, they attract the wrong type of clients and are not how you build a sustainable and freedom-focused business. (more…)

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Life

Practicing Self-Devotion: 3 Ways Towards a More Mindful and Compassionate You

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I can still hear the voices of my older relatives and my elementary school teachers telling me “be disciplined”, “keep at it”, to give time and energy towards what we want. As a young, impressionable child, I believed all those things because well, they made sense. They worked. And honestly, I felt like it’s the only way to flourish. (more…)

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