Dealing with difficult people
I recently heard the CEO of my company likes to insult people. As I was informed, he does it only to those who “let” him insult them. Afterword I started a debate with my boss about it. He said “but you should know one thing about him, he is not a mean person in heart”. I suppose my boss just deals with this difficult situation in his own way, justifying CEO’s behavior to make it easier to cope with.
This is not the first time I have been in this kind of situation. Believe it or not, I have already had two of this kind of bosses! I guess it is more common than not. Unfortunately.
So over the years I managed to find few useful methods that help me deal with difficult people. When regularly applying them I notice much less anger or frustration, but most important thing is that I don’t fall under depression when the situation is inescapable. Here they are.
1. First and most important truth that makes me see why people are being difficult is: people are naturally ignorant.
We all live our lives closed in our minds, guided by our ego’s reactions and with high walls of mental self-defense. Some people create various social “skills” that serve to feed their insecurities. By doing so they tend to “take it out” on the weak links, especially if they are on higher functions. If you ever had a boss who is like that, try to view his personality from a neutral point. Would they really react the way they do if they were comfortable in their own skin? I see most of the “yellers” are really just insecure people who let themselves react the way they feel only because they can by just being in the higher function.
I do not justify or approve their behavior. What I do is I look at everyone from neutral position. By observing everyone, including myself, I realize we all just act and react out of ignorance. If we were aware of the reality, we wouldn’t have reacted in improper ways because we would know there is no need to act that way and that we are all equals who deserve same treatment as anyone else.
Of course, this method doesn’t always help. When finding yourself in tough situation, someone yells or reacts improperly toward you, it is natural to raise self-defense with thoughts like “Who does he think he is?” or “What a jerk!”. In reality, those kinds of situations are all happening because of our natural ignorance and by acknowledging it we can be less angry or frustrated.
Another approach is to look at people’s capacity. Can they come to their senses? Can we have a conversation with them to make them understand what they are doing? Or is it that no matter what we do or say, they will not be able to change? Capacity is something we should look in everyone. When we realize there is not much capacity to change in some people, we will accept them as they are.
It doesn’t mean we should let others treat us badly. But we do often overreact to the situations and this method serves to stop excessive inner reactions. When we have on our minds the knowledge about people’s ignorance and capacity, we may look at those people with compassion and not anger or frustration.
2. Second much important approach are the beliefs of mind’s will to exist and the law of karma: everything that happens in our life happens for a reason.
We have greater mental power than we think and by having the will to exist, we are pushed into life after life. By doing so, we create positive or negative results with our actions. One of result to that is finding ourselves in a situation where someone mistreats us. At first we might think “oh, why me, what have I done to deserve it”. After realizing these truths we begin to see how the present situation is the result of our previous actions. And then comes the acceptance of the situation. We won’t start enjoying it and say “oh yes, let’s do this”, but we will cope with it easier.
3. Positive affirmations with creative visualization
After we establish that bad situation happening to us is the result of people’s natural ignorant state and our previous actions, accepting it can be enhanced through positive affirmations with creative visualization. Every day say as much as possible “I accept things as they are” and apply visualization seeing yourself in the midst of the tough situation but calm and happy. It doesn’t mean your situation will disappear but maybe you will react more calmly if situation escalates, so applying this method can help staying calm and not worried of what might happen.
4. Mindful living
Staying completely present in the moment helps us being aware of how we feel. Often we get nervous but we don’t know why and that is because we like to bury our feelings since they are hard to deal with. Instead I encourage everyone to start being mindful to acknowledge what is bothering you, that is how you can solve it. No point in burying your head in the ground like ostrich because it won’t solve nothing.
Final method is meditation and since I use mindfulness meditation (concentrating on the breath with letting the thoughts go by without attachment), I know this technique is a natural cure to settle sparse and agitated mind. By applying meditation regularly, you will notice that you are naturally calmer and relaxed in stressful situations.
After becoming more advanced in meditation, you will notice how the world vibrates on lower level but you will feel calm and untouched by situations. I experienced this effect many times, but the trick is to meditate as often and as much as possible. I noticed when my mind is calm and settled, I keep much better control over myself around difficult people.
It is hard to stay calm and focused when you can’t avoid difficult people. Just like many others, I have often found myself in situations where I couldn’t escape and I wanted to so much. It is not easy to find another job and move away from bully boss or ignore some difficult ever present relative. But what we can do is change our mindset. That is the only thing we can change really. It is very hard but it can be done, not immediately or after few tries but in time and with consistent practice we can change ourselves and how we react to situations.