Difficult people can make life really miserable for us. They can cause us a lot of stress and prevent us from achieving our goals. They’re often tricky and manipulative and adept at getting the upper hand. This is why it’s so important to be able to recognize these problematic individuals and to learn how to deal with them as quickly and strategically as possible.
After Labor Day, when we’re back at school and at work, we’re still bringing some of that summertime relaxation into the new season. We come back to our busy, post-Labor Day lives feeling pretty chill but sadly, the difficult people around us are likely to take advantage of the fact that our guards are down to make more trouble for us when we’re least prepared for it.
No matter how relaxed you are, you should always pay close attention to what’s going on around you. You never know when someone’s going to try to mess with you so it’s essential to stay alert. You can be cool, calm and collected, but never stop paying attention.
This isn’t the same as cynicism in which you think the worst of everyone. Healthy skepticism is recognizing that not everything is as it appears. It’s being open to all possibilities – the possibility that the person across from you is reasonable and supportive and the possibility that they’re a colossal jerk.
Don’t just trust that what the other person is telling you is the truth. Don’t just trust that their behavior is on the up and up. Do your research. Find out the facts. Base your decisions on what is really there; not on what you hope or wish was there.
If you’re an honest, honorable, decent person it can be difficult to imagine corrupt, unethical, sleazy or unreasonable people being in your world. But they’re there. Believe me, they’re there. Some people are like you and some people are really different from you and pretty awful. Practicing steps 1, 2 and 3 will help you with this.
It doesn’t matter why someone is behaving badly. It only matters how their behavior is affecting you. Maybe they had a bad childhood; maybe they have problems today. It doesn’t matter. There really is no excuse for people treating you badly. Focus on how you feel and what you need and what you’re going to do to take care of yourself, rather than trying to justify why someone is messing with you.
Give the person one chance to show you whether they’re respectful, reasonable, honest and considerate or not. If they fail the test, accept the fact. When you give someone like this a second chance, you only give them another chance to hurt you.
It’s great to have forgiveness in your heart. Nobody wants to walk around angry, resentful and upset. But, you need to remember what this person has done so that you don’t give them another opportunity to mess with you. Forgive them, sure, but never forget what this person is capable of doing to you.