Dealing with Difficult People – Part 1

By Naila Naiyyar

dealing_with_difficult_people

 

It’s common to face difficult people in life, be it at work, school, in the family, random people in the lift, at shops, while standing in a queue or even in the same house. These situations cannot be avoided because we are different people with different temperaments, backgrounds and perspectives seeing things from varying angles.

The best way to deal with such people is to identify their characteristics, know how to cope with, and learn how to deal with them.

 

Signs of Difficult People

The difficult people that you encounter in your life may have at least one of the following signs:

  • Attention-seeking
  • Negative and Pessimistic
  • Snubbing
  • Flying into a rage
  • Always right; want to win every argument
  • Unreasonable; illogical
  • Finding faults; blaming others for their problems
  • Not accepting mistakes; lying
  • Playing victim
  • Stubborn; don’t want to change or improve; not open to suggestions
  • Know-it-all; don’t like their authority to be challenged

 

Coping Strategies

 

1) Remain calm:

Once you recognize any of these signs in someone, the most important thing then is to maintain your composure and not react to him. The moment you lose your calm, full-blown conflict will ensue. When the opposing party is already in a negative state of mind, you do not want to get engulfed in their negativity. Remaining calm and walking away from the situation tactfully without letting the negative vibe affect you is the best option at such a time.

Remember that you do not want to stoop to their level in reacting rashly. Always be aware of your actions. You are not responsible for the way they behave but you have total control over your OWN behavior. Constantly remind yourself even in times of peace that you will not indulge in any rash action. Make loads of dua and ask Allah to make things easy.

“O Allah, I seek refuge in You lest I misguide others , or I am misguided by others , lest I cause others to err or I am caused to err , lest I abuse others or be abused, and lest I behave foolishly or meet with the foolishness of others.” (Abu Dawud)

 

2) Identify the trigger buttons

Avoid topics that you know would trigger them. State the facts in a way other than being very direct or curt.

Also, what is it exactly that triggers YOU off? Not everyone will act or behave in the way we want them to; maybe that ticks you off. If you know the person very well, you would know what to expect. Being prepared to expect a certain behavior from the other person will help in letting it pass you without getting annoyed.

 

3) Beware of the temptation of being right

Avoid getting sucked in arguing or defending yourself. Even if they perceive you to be wrong, it is not the end of the world. An adamant person may not change his opinion anyway so it is better that you stay out of it. Being quiet is superior to winning.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever gives up telling lies in support of a false claim, a palace will be built for him in the outskirts of Paradise. Whoever gives up argument when he is in the right, a palace will be built from him in the middle (of Paradise). And whoever had good behavior, a palace will be built for him in the highest reaches (of Paradise).” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

Be tactful in your dealings. Sometimes it is better that you stay to work towards maintaining peace than being right.

 

4) Limit interactions:

Set boundaries and limit interaction. With time you will realize that it’s alright to keep a certain level of distance without being impolite even if you live in the same house with that person. It’s not necessary to engage in a full conversation with them each time you see them especially when you know it will lead to conflict. Your happiness and peace is more important.

Let him have his say, and leave the conversation there. Keep your cool. Don’t let the negativity of the other person affect your mind, emotions, actions and words.

 

5) Identify your response pattern:

We all want to have ideal relationships with others but we need to realize that some things cannot and just would not change; we have to take it as it is. We need to analyze the situation and ask ourselves: Why is this happening? Could there be an angle to this situation besides what I am seeing and interpreting? What if it is me who is aggravating the situation? What is the best way I can use to deal this situation with? Surely, it is not that the other turns good, before suddenly turning nasty again!  Rather, it is highly likely that it is us who gets comfortable with them, only to be completely thrown off when there is an unexpected outburst from them, leading us again into shock, pain, grief and anger.

So identify the response pattern, because unless you change the way you respond and react to stressors, this cycle of stress and anger will be repeated over and over again.

 

6) Look at the positive aspect

Those you perceive to be ‘difficult’ might have within them other qualities that are good. Focus on those merits. Do not ignore the good things they do, nor avoid appreciating them.

 

Coping strategies to be continued in the next part, insha Allah

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Dealing with Difficult People – Part 2 | Ar-Rajaa The Hope Counseling Service

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