As much as we would all like to avoid them, we are forced to deal with difficult people throughout our lives. The way you respond to a tense situation often determines whether the outcome is positive or negative. I have often seen a mild situation escalate quickly due to the responses of the participants and it could have been avoided with a bit of control and understanding. Here are a few guidelines to follow when you are dealing with difficult individuals.
Remain calm and be respectful
It can be so difficult to remain calm when someone is being rude or disrespectful to your face. Your initial reaction is to react in the same manner that you are being treated, but this tactic will not lead to a peaceful resolution. The other person is obviously upset and you cannot assess and handle the situation properly if you allow yourself to become agitated as well. Often, if you react in a calm manner and treat them with respect they will begin to calm down as well.
Don’t argue, listen
We all want to be right and usually think we are, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes you need to just stop and listen to the other person’s side of the story. They may have a different perspective that you have not considered or could present a new scenario that would change your perception. Do not make assumptions before you listen to their side of the story.
When dealing with a difficult person, particularly in a work environment, it is important to get some back up. You want other people around as witnesses to the situation in case something comes into question later. Having another person with you can also make you feel calmer and more in control.
Tell your tale
Don’t you hate it in a book or movie when a character is confronted and doesn’t tell anyone? That drives me crazy! Tell someone what happened so that your side of the story is out there. It would be best if you could write it out after the confrontation.
Give yourself a break
After the encounter do not wallow in regret or self pity. You made the best decisions you knew to make in the moment and you cannot change what happened. You can, however, control the way you react and not allow the negativity to affect your life. Tell the proper people and then let it go, releasing any remaining anger and resentment you may have.
Learning to stay calm and collected under pressure is a great difficulty for many. However, it will not only calm the person you are dealing with, but it will keep your mind clear and open as well.