Recently I have been delivering workshops on dealing with angry and irate clients. I am often asked “I deal with a lot of negative and difficult people. How do I protect myself from becoming like them?“
One of the challenges of dealing with negative and difficult people is to not become one of them. There are a number of strategies to ensure this does not happen. Let’s review them.
When people behave negatively it shows their body language. This behaviour can spread to others who are prone to it and eventually they too will reflect the same negativity. Approach the individual with a positive mindset and avoid being drawn into their negativity. At the same time show that you do understand their issue and can empathize with them while remaining positive.
In trying to understand their issue it is necessary to listen to what they have to say but there has to be a limit to how long you should let them go on. Try to keep them focused on the salient points and not ramble on continuously. People learn and remember from other’s actions more than just what they say. Feeding into the situation emotionally can teach them that they can rely on you for a reaction. It’s not easy not to act in response because we’re human but it’s worth practicing.
Often we hear that we should by no means take things personally when dealing with negativity from a colleague. It’s more complex that you cannot dismiss everything a person says about you just because the person is insensitive or thoughtless. At times even a rude person may have a convincing point. Try to take and accept their comments with a willingness to learn.
It is also important to make it clear to the person so they understand that not all problems can be solved and fixed right away. However, telling them you are willing to help them get started on the process is encouraging.
Another danger in dealing with negative, rude, insensitive or thoughtless people is that their behaviour puts up a barrier to actually listening to what they are saying. At times even a rude person may have a convincing point.
Sometimes it may help to steer the conversation away from a touchy subject and attempt to disarm the negativity. Once this has been achieved it may then be possible to get back to the issue causing the negativity.
As cliché as it sounds, try putting yourself in the other persons shoes. This might give you a new perspective on how best to deal with their issue. Look for the lessons since no situation is ever lost if we take the lessons away from it. These lessons assist us develop into a better person. In spite of how negative circumstances may become, there is often a buried reward in the form of a lesson.
At some point it may be necessary to ask yourself the question “What am I getting out of it?” Be honest with yourself and do not become the new caretaker because you are needed. It is essential to establish how vital it is to have things remain they way there are currently. This will limit interactions with people that have no relevance to the situation. We work more comfortably with people who poses the same qualities that we do.
Research shows our mental status plays an enormous part in our physical wellbeing. If you notice a person causing grief for people around them in the workplace, you can be sure they are doing worse for themselves.
Recognize that impossible people exist and in these cases there is not anything that you can do.
So when they say do not take it personally, you find yourself not able to dismiss everything someone says about you just because the person is insensitive or tactless. However it’s not particularly common that an abrasive person has valid points.
Some people simply are not compatible and accepting this shifts the blame off of you. Understand that it is not you, it is them. Chances are the more blame that is expressed the more guilt will be felt which can lead away from actual fault.
So act appropriately instead of just reacting. Do not hesitate to create positive feelings. Compliments increase esteem confidence by reminding us of a moment when we were happy. This also helps defuse an upset person. Reflecting positive energy re-directs the focus on something else.
Try to maintain the right relationship based on what reality is. This can mean gently bringing the conversation to a close after you’ve heard what you need to. You can’t save the world. However, this will help to make the world a better place. You may even assist the troubled person by creating a sense of tranquility within yourself that will into allow their negativity to penetrate into your well being.