'Difficult' People

Changing the behaviour of other people, especially difficult ones, can be a bit of an adventure. The place to start that produces guaranteed results is with yourself.

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We all know one.  Someone who’s ‘difficult’.  They don’t act in ways you expect, say things that get up your nose or are just plain annoying.  And they take up way too much of your time and energy.

Changing the behaviour of other people, especially difficult ones, can be a bit of an adventure.  The place to start that produces guaranteed results is with yourself.  Work better with other people by answering these questions about you:

  •  Why do you consider the person to be difficult? What buttons does their behaviour push for you?  Does it annoy everyone or just you?  Maybe their behaviour is letting you know what your own values and boundaries are.  Or maybe it’s a glaring signal about the things you don’t do well yourself, or don’t like about yourself.  Recognise what’s happening and let it go.
  • How does your labelling this person as difficult affect your relationship? How do you react when you see them walking toward you?  Is there a sense of dread?  Imagining an awkward conversation?  Chances are, if that’s what you’re focusing on, that’s probably what you’re going to experience.  Instead of labelling the person as ‘difficult’, try seeing them as an opportunity to discover how other people think, be amazed at the creativity of others, or a chance to practice your communication skills.
  •  What advantages might the person’s difficultness have for them?  Do they get what they want?  Feel more powerful?  Get left alone? Once you understand their motivation, you can help them find more useful ways to get their needs met (or just behave more appropriately).

It’s worth the effort to give these strategies a go.  Even if you don’t change anything about the difficult person’s behaviour, you could significantly improve your own by developing new attitudes and skills.  Then the other person’s behaviour just won’t seem so difficult anymore.