By Colleen Kettenhofen
“It’s not about being better than others. It’s about becoming better with ourselves.”
As you know, your rockiest relationships can serve as your greatest teachers. Mine certainly have. Sometimes we learn how we never want to be from observing other people.
Many of the proven principles in my dealing with difficult people programs have come from personal experience. I’ve learned to make lemons from some pretty sour people. Fortunately, you discover through trial and error how to deal with these difficult people. And if you’re like me, you’ve been lucky. You haven’t had to deal with too many difficult people. And my background is in sales. There’s a profession where sometimes you’re dealing with difficult people!
What gave me a new leash on life was first looking at what might be my part. Then recognizing what aspect is about them. Chronically difficult people are often unhappy people. Misery loves company. Don’t accept the invitation. Because if we’re still analyzing and dissecting everything they’ve said a week later, they control us. Here’s a great mantra for you to silently say to yourself the next time you’re dealing with difficult people: “THIS is a test. This is ONLY a test. This will NOT be important in 10 yrs!” Chances are it won’t be important even 10 weeks from now.
Understand where this difficult person in your life is coming from. In dealing with difficult people, know it’s often a dark place of deep insecurity. They make themselves feel better by belittling you. Don’t fall prey to their disparaging remarks. Pretend you’re a duck. Let their comments fall off your back like water and roll into the gutter where they belong. Say to yourself, “I’m am a duck. I am a duck. Your stuff rolls off my back like water and into the gutter where it belongs.”
Don’t communicate too much to “stand your ground.” You’ll only fan the flames of contentiousness. Don’t add fuel to an already explosive fire. Detach and move away from the fire. Otherwise, it’s YOU who gets burned.
You’ve heard people say that you can discover a lot from dogs. My dog, Joy, is a bright shining light in a sometimes dark world. For example, it’s amazing to see the joy (pardon the pun) on people’s faces when they see her wet nose and wagging tail. She lives up to her name.
My mom, Janet, used to say “We can learn how to treat people from dogs.” She would exclaim, “They’re happy to see you. They show appreciation, kindness and love to almost everyone they meet.” My mother was this way. (Kind of get a lump in my throat hearing her voice and feeling her presence!) I want to emulate Janet. And I want to be like Joy. Observing Joy causes me to reflect and ask the question, “How much light do I want to have bring into this world?” Ask yourself the same question. How can you bring hope, healing, and happiness to others? Just like dogs.
The challenge in dealing with difficult people is this: Not only do they lack bringing light, difficult people are experts at snuffing out your candle flame. They know all the right buttons to press if you’re not wearing your bulletproof vest. They steal your joy and hijack your spirit. Difficult people suck the life out of you…which is why they’re called Emotional Vampires. Don’t let them drive you batty!
Good luck to you!
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Colleen has two NEW books being published in June 2010.