“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echos are truly endless.” ~ Mother Teresa
When dealing with difficult people, the word “kind” may not be the first thing that comes to your mind.Still, the above quote by Mother Teresa is a terrific one to remember so that we don’t become the difficult people. We know to treat others with respect – even those who are hurtful toward us, but we don’t always do with what we know. It’s starts with remembering – and practicing – the basics. What are the basics? Treat the difficult person with at least some reverence, and don’t take what they say personally. How do you do that? Please read on…
Let me first say that in presenting keynotes and seminars on dealing with difficult people, the question I’m most often asked is, “How do you not take it personally?”
Accept that what others do to you is not always personal. Seek first to understand them and what they might be going through. For example, you’d heard people say, “Walk in someone else’s shoes.” Here’s why that advice works: It get you out of your own agenda of believing a hurtful interaction was directed at you.
Know that most difficult interactions don’t happen because someone woke up one day and decided, “I know what I’ll do! I’ll purposely be mean to Jane Doe today.” Most people just don’t think that way – even difficult people.
Dealing with Difficult People, and Collateral Damage
Instead, realize that the number one source of difficult interactions is what I call “collateral damage.” People do what they do for their own reasons, and it’s easy to get caught in the crosshairs of their actions. In my role as a corporate speaker with companies and associations all over the world, I frequently witness this happening in the workplace. And especially if you’re a salesperson, your first rule is to not take rejection of your product, service, or message as a rejection of you.
So take a snapshot of other people’s lives at the time, think about the pressures they’re under, and then accept that what they did to you wasn’t about you. Don’t take it personally. It’s advice that’s trite but true.
As bestselling author Stephen R. Covey wrote, “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” Adopting that attitude lets you realize that whatever others did to make something difficult for you, they didn’t do it to you. They just did it.
A frequent media guest, Colleen Kettenhofen is the author of two books, Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You, and the upcoming Adopting Joy. Colleen is author of the 10-CD audio learning system, How to Turn Around Any Situation or Person. Her areas of expertise are leadership, dealing with difficult people, managing change, and improving presentation skills. For free articles, or to sign up for Colleen’s newsletter, visit www.BounceBackHigher.com Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions and seminars by calling toll free (800)323-0683. Or, locally in Phoenix (623)340-7690.