Friday, September 22, 2017

Dealing with Difficult People and Detecting the Really Difficult People

by DrJudy on

Dealing with difficult people can involve other people that you initially thought were okay.  However, you find out sooner or later that they are really demanding, frustrating, irritating, annoying and stressful.   Or you discover that they have serious psychological issues that surface later that you were not aware of and are extremely concerning for you.

SPOTTING THE DIFFICULT PEOPLE BEFORE THEY REALLY GET GOING

A number of subscribers have sent in questions asking how you can spot these difficult people early.  Thus avoiding all the suffering that comes later when you realize how difficult these people really are.    For example,  Sharon wants to know:   “How to detect these types of people quickly”.   And Lilian asks:   “Is there any kind of trick to figure quickly that a difficult person will became a dangerous co-worker? I mean, there are difficult people and people that love to put a rock in your way…but there’s also people with difficulties.  How to figure quickly the difference and how to deal with each one?  Thanks”.

MANAGING DIFFICULT PEOPLE AND NO REAL WAY TO SPOT

To give both Sharon and Lilian the clearest answer.  It is this!  There is no foolproof spot the difficult person magic wand.  If there was such a wand we would all be waving it madly every time we came in contact with other people.   In other posts we will consider some tips that will help.  But in this post it is important to understand why it is so hard to initially work out other people.

THE LAYERS OF PROTECTION

This is because we most often come wrapped in layers.  People reveal themselves to others in layers.  This means that we tend to get to know other people in layers, as they take off one layer and then another layer.   This can happen in a number of ways.  But two ways you reveal yourself to others is through: (a) becoming closer to another person and/or (b) having greater contact and spending time with them.

A.  FEELING CLOSE TO ANOTHER PERSON AND IN THE SNOW

Imagine this scenario.  You are snug and warm inside your house.  You are about to go outside into the freezing snow.  To protect yourself you put on several layers of clothing to keep you warm and safe before you leave the house.   This is what we all do each time we go outside to meet the world and connect with people.  You put on layers that cover up the  ‘real’  you and what you are really like to actually protect yourself from being hurt by others.

COPING WITH PEOPLE AND REMOVING LAYERS

As you feel more comfortable and safe with other people, you start to remove some of those layers so they can start to see who you really are.  The greater your feelings of trust and security the more outer layers you remove.  The more you reveal who you are to other people.  That is why those people you feel closest to, know more about you than anybody else.   Both your good and less appealing characteristics.

B:  HABITUAL BEHAVIOR AND DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE

Another way to get to know more about what someone is like, has to do with time and contact.   This simply means that when you have enough contact with another person and spend enough time with them, then their habitual behaviors start to show through under the layers.  Habitual behaviors are behaviors that are habits for people.  Habits are repeated often and are very hard to break.   This happens a lot in the workplace when you spend time and work closely with other people.  That is why over time, you can to see below the layers of other people as you observe their habits.  Sometimes this behavior can be endearing to you, other times it can make you very frustrated and stressed.   This is also why it can take some time for you to discover that someone you initially got on well with has now become exactly the opposite.

DO NOT PUT YOURSELF DOWN FOR NOT BEING SPOT ON

Because of these layers and the process of time and contact it is very hard to spot trouble ahead in dealing with people.  This is why you should never feel that you have failed by not realizing what someone was like from the start.  It just doesn’t work like this, it is only down the track that you find these things out.

MORE IDEAS ON DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE TO COME

So Sharon and Lilian, there is no magic wand to instantly know what someone is like and how difficult you will find them to be.  But in the next post we’ll discuss some tips that can speed up the process for you and others in spotting and dealing with difficult people.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen L June 9, 2010 at

Judy, I have learned from the different posts on Dealing with Difficult People. The scenario I shared with you about a woman at Quilt meetings still attends those guild meetings. The difference is that I no long attend. I have been driving to another small town a hour’s drive distance from (location removed). The women in this Quilt group are so far easier for me to get along with. I am accepted more readily and my viewpoints are listened to and I am not interrupted or ignored. I still attend a small group of quilters in (location removed) and this difficult person attends this meeting. She continues with her interruptions, constant talking, ignoring that others are wanting to speak. Her tone of voice get tense when she is making a statement about her dislikes. Being with her is like she wants to be the center of attention. Kathleen L.

DrJudy June 23, 2010 at

Hi Kathleen,

Thanks for your comments. It is a very good example of how just one person can destroy a group, unless the majority of group members do nothing about it. One of the most important things to be learnt in dealing with difficult people is that you cannot change other people, they must change themselves. Sometimes you need to focus on looking after yourself. Your health, your stress levels and your enjoyment of life. Well done Kathleen to look after yourself and still make sure you are doing what you love.

Take care

Dr Judy Esmond

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: