Connecting Successfully with a ‘Difficult’ Person

Are you like me with some people? I don’t know why, but they simply get under my skin!

A recent encounter with an ornery neighbour got me stumped. I’m supposed to be a coach, I’m supposed to be able to help people communicate better. And I do! It works for my clients. I love getting teams to work in harmony. I get great feedback and yet, here I am, getting stuck in a private encounter of my own!

It got me thinking …

How can we all do better with people we see as ‘difficult’?

It made me think of three mindsets we can use in this type of situation: 
  1. In the ME mindset you only are aware of your own wants and needs.
    You focus on yourself. You probably blame the other person for bringing out the worst of you! You are convinced the other person is the ‘difficult’ person!
  2. In the YOU mindset you deliberately place the focus on the other person. You try to understand what the person’s wants and needs are. You repeat those back to the person: an act of active listening. You do not listen to your own inner voice of how the person makes you feel, but instead focus on controlling your emotions and being curious. You may start to understand where the person is coming from. You may even start getting second thoughts about who the real ‘difficult’ person in the situation is!
  3. In the WE mindset you look at the situation from above, akin to going onto a balcony and looking down on the conversation. You focus on what a successful outcome would look like, what a win-win may be for both parties. Now it does not matter who is right or who is ‘difficult’; what you want, is to come to a successful conclusion. It may ask for compromise. It may ask for solid boundaries! The bottom line is that—through curiosity and creativity—through solid green brain energy from your intellectual brain, you are able to work towards a solution that will be much better than either of the outcomes possible from either the ME or the YOU mindset. It will also have the additional advantage that you will improve your relationship with the ‘difficult’ person.
My conversation with the neighbour is not concluded yet. My mindset has completely changed though! I’ve moved through mindsets 1 and 2 and will now only work in 3 until a win-win solution for both parties is found.

There will be joy at the end of this! It’s a matter of doing the necessary work first.

Do you have people in your life who get under your skin? 

Just think how much the quality of your life will improve—and the lives of those your life touches—if you can master this kind of situation.

Perhaps you can also try going up to the balcony from time to time ….

Best wishes,
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