Dealing With Difficult People
The holidays often bring us in contact with people we might not choose to be around the rest of the year. Do you have a difficult relative, friend or neighbor who you just cringe thinking about being around? Do you have to spend time this holiday with someone who pushes your buttons, or just makes you wish you could go home, curl up on the couch and watch a movie – by yourself?
If so, I want to share a few techniques that I have my clients use to make being around these difficult people less draining.
Let’s look at how they act (or behave) so you can quickly recognize the triggering behavior. Usually difficult people are judgmental. And they are vocal about their judgments; or they use passive-aggressive communications or employ nonverbal cues – eye rolling, scowling, imperious expressions or a belittling expression.
Let me give you a quick personal example:
Occasionally over the holidays I have to deal with a distant relative, who when she lays eyes on me, scowls. I mean literally scowls. Now, I happen to think it’s funny. Why? I know it’s just a stimulus response reaction. I’ve taken very good care of myself and at 66 I’m still slim, fit and healthy. She, on the other hand, eats and drinks more than her body metabolizes and even though she’s 25 years younger than I am, she can’t stand that I’m slim. I don’t react when she does that. I just smile and say hi and ask how she’s doing.
So how can you handle the scowling, or even directly judging person during this holiday season?
First, accept that they are the way they are. Acceptance allows us to move into a nonresistant state. Once you move out of resistance and into nonresistance, you can effectively strategize how you want to respond. In resistance, you are likely to react. In nonresistance, you can respond. For your peace of mind, we want you to respond.
Second, remind yourself — it’s not personal. The scowling from the distant family member isn’t personal. She does it to my slim husband also. However the person judges you, it’s their issue. It’s coming from their ego. Judgment is always from the ego. It’s best to move out of the way of their ego and move into being neutral.
That’s the 3rd technique – people always say to send that difficult person love, but if you’re not there yet, move to neutral. Be Switzerland. Not only don’t you have to love the person, you don’t even have to like them. But you can be neutral towards them.
So if your mother-in-law (not mine thank goodness, she’s a gem), or anyone else says something critical about how you’ve prepared a big dinner, just accept that’s who they are. Remind yourself it’s not personal. And move to a place of being neutral. Then choose what to say. Maybe something like: “I hope you enjoy the meal.” Or just smile and say “Excuse me” and move on to a task or talk to another person.
Whatever you do, try your best not to engage that difficult person. That’s what they’re looking for. The judging ego loves more than anything to be right! So if you engage with them, they’ll want to really make you wrong; that will give them more reasons to judge you and it will feel like it’s a victory to them.
Bullies eventually stop picking on someone who doesn’t react like a victim. They want to find and pick on a victim so they can feel superior. So your best move is not to feed that unhealthy part of the difficult person – i.e. their judging ego.
The 4th thing you can do – if you want to take it to this level – is to find compassion for the person. I like to have my clients look to see if there are any good things the difficult person does that they can focus on instead of focusing on the judging side. Oh, it’s challenging when they’ve just been critical.
If you can find something good your mother-in-law has done in the past, you might – when she criticizes your dinner preparation – smile at her and genuinely tell her you’re glad she’s there. If it’s not true, best to just stick with a smile and “I hope you enjoy the meal.” But if you can move into a place of compassion, then you can really diffuse the judging ego. It has nothing to push against if you move into compassion. But more importantly, you stay in a place of love no matter what anyone does around you. And you will feel peace in your heart, mind and soul.
So remember, to deal with difficult and judging people this holiday season, accept that’s who they are, don’t take it personally, move into a neutral mindset and if you can, walk into compassion.
I want to again include a quote by the heart-centered, late Dr. Wayne Dyer:
“Love is my gift to the world. I fill myself with love, and I send that love out into the world. How others treat me is their path; how I react is mine.”
Here’s to peace this holiday season.
Sending you love, joy and peace,
© Carol Chanel
I teach people to overcome the obstacles that keep them stuck yet longing for romantic relationships, more self-confidence and inspiration to accomplish their dreams.
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