Difficult People

Feb 02, 2022

If I were to say the difficult person's name how would you feel?

Dread or Neutral
Anger or Curious
Exasperation or Responsible
Resentment or Tolerant

If you feel the former feelings, but want to feel the latter I have some ideas for you. Would you be game to consider ...

  • No one is difficult until you believe they are.
  • What we think about others, we find evidence to prove to ourselves.
  • There will always be "difficult" people in your orbit. This is not a problem.
  • You don't have to change the other person for them to no longer be difficult.

I am going to share more about each of these possibilities over the course of this week.

Today we'll start with the first thought:

Thought #1: No one is difficult until you believe they are.
People aren't difficult. They may behave in ways that you believe are difficult - to manage, to corral, to collaborate with, to listen to, to raise, to be married to... But they, the human being, are not difficult. They may be unpredictable or complicated, but you don't have to make that mean they are difficult.

Because as soon as we say someone is difficult, it impacts how we interact with them. And , let's be honest, rarely do we act at our best in these situations. And our reaction to their behavior actually says so much more about us than about them.

When you characterize another as difficult let that be an invitation to pause and get curious. Curiosity looks like asking yourself one or two of these questions:

  • What expectations do I have for how people should or shouldn't interact with me?
  • Have I explicitly shared these expectations?
  • Have I shared how I will respond if they aren't met?
  • Have I done this in an emotionally mature way or in a reactive or angry way?
  • How do I benefit from defining the other person as difficult?
  • Are there ways that I become difficult in their eyes based on how I react to them?
  • How may I be contributing to the way they behave with me?
  • How can I remove myself from their company? or reduce my interactions?

It is rare that I coach someone who doesn't bring up a difficult person in their life. And solving for this way of thinking can be just the release needed to make major shifts in many areas of one's life.