Dealing with Difficult People

dealing with difficult people

This week on the podcast I’m talking about how to dealing with difficult people in your life. Whether it’s folks you don’t know that you encounter out in the world, a problematic neighbor, a boss or colleague, or even a partner or a family member. 

Listen To The Podcast Here

I want to dive into this topic this week because with everything that we’re encountering at this juncture in 2020, it feels like the stress and the uncertainty are bringing out the worst in people. It’s not just me thinking that, right? And so it can feel like we’re dealing with more difficult people than we have in the past. 

Or maybe not. Maybe working from home, and generally staying closer to home means you don’t have as many encounters with folks. But… nah. I mean, people can certainly still get under your skin over Zoom, email, and text. 

The thing about difficult people is that they can get us into such a reactive state that we do things or think things that make us feel like maybe we’re bad people. If you find yourself shouting at the car in front of you. Or silently hating the co-worker who keeps texting you well into the evening hours. At some point, you’re going to have a moment of wondering if you’re a bad person. 

The truth is, difficult people are a fact of life, no matter the outer circumstances we’re living through. And they aren’t here just to get under our skin. No, I firmly believe that they’re here to help us grow into better people. They help us develop all kinds of important things, like empathy, boundaries, conflict resolutions skills, and even self-awareness. 

Difficult People Are Our Teachers

I remember going to hear the Dalai Lama speak in Central Park in the late 90s. And the one piece of his talk that has stuck with me is when he talked about the people who cause us suffering. He said that they are here to help us grow and that we should be grateful to them for being our teachers. I know. I had the same thought. Like, what?!? And then he said, “This is very hard to do.” And then he giggled. So, listen, even the Dalai Lama finds difficult people challenging. BUT, as Glennon Doyle says, we can do hard things. Right? Because you’re listening to this podcast, I know that you value things like empathy and self-awareness and emotional health and better communication. And I applaud you for that. Thank you for caring. 

Stay Awhile

Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about how the difficult people in your life can help you raise your own self-awareness. Wednesday I’m interviewing Amy Gallo, author of the HBR Guide to Managing Conflict and deliverer of the awesome Ted talk, the gift of conflict, for some mindset shifts and practical tools we can use when interacting with difficult people. Thursday, we’ll talk about how to find the areas where you connect with people you disagree with, and we’ll end the week on Friday with talking about setting boundaries with the people who drive you nuts. 

And I’ll close out this episode with a quote from American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron: Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to learn. So let’s support our learning process this week, shall we? 


Want to be a better person, but don’t know where to start?

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