Dealing With Difficult People

Some people are just plain disagreeable. You know the type. They ooze negativity and criticism. Mall parking lots and grocery line-ups are littered with them. Obviously, we don’t know what others might have going on in their lives. Perhaps they are usually pleasant, but happen to be temporarily bitter for a legitimate reason. I’m not counting them. I’m talking about the crotchety ones who are nasty on a daily basis.
It’s futile to try to avoid these toxic humans. They’ll find you. And when they do, they can turn your happy smile into a painful grimace in an instant…if you let them.
My mom emailed me an article about dealing with difficult people.  I’ve included excerpts below, with comments.
Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, 
Hamilton Spectator


They are your sneering coworkers, your prying neighbours, your insulting in-laws. They are the nasty people who make environments toxic. But you can beat them without joining them.
How to deal with nasty people:
See it for what it is. Rather
than internalize the criticism or dwell on what you might have done to
deserve the attack, recognize that the nasty person has personal issues.
Dwelling is a hard habit to break. I’m a huge dweller. Is it possible to learn HOW to shake things off? Or is this an innate ability you either have or do not?
Get away. Exit the room, the conversation, even town if necessary. Calmly, efficiently, and without saying anything you’d regret.
Ok, now we’re talking. I’m highly skilled at the “escape or die trying” strategy. 
Get them on your side.
Invalidators respond well to three things: affinity, acknowledgment and
admiration. Repeat back what they have said to you so that they feel
understood, and begin any argument with a compliment.
A compliment you say? I fear this might be a breeding ground for passive-agressive activity at its worst…
Diffuse with humour. If your
mother-in-law becomes enraged about your skimpy outfit, agree with her
to the point of exaggeration — “I know I’m such a slut!” — and often
everyone is laughing by the end.
BEST and most effective strategy. When life gives you lemons, make a joke (and then take a shot of tequila and suck on the lemon). Humour is nature’s stress reliever and it should be used whenever possible. As they say, laughter is the best revenge. Or best medicine. Whatever. They’re both good. 
Silent confrontation. Rather
than fire back or get into a row, you can confront without opening your
mouth. Just maintain eye contact and give a calm smile that indicates
you know what your tormentor is doing; eventually they’ll feel so
uncomfortable they’ll stop or leave.
Ooh, the stare down. Big fan. 
Come again? Asking someone to
repeat their nasty remark (“I’m sorry, what did you just call me?”)
forces them to own up to what they just said — and many people,
embarrassed, will water it down the second time around.


I picture myself as Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver where he’s all,You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to ME?

One on one. If it’s not
important, let it go. If it is important, get them alone and start by
saying something like “Maybe you didn’t know … ” Some mean people
deliver their biggest sting in front of an audience, and alone they
might be apologetic.
This may have been a perfect way to start a conversation with the Shusher
Don’ts: Don’t taunt, name-call or get physically violent. Also, never tell an invalidator he or she is wrong; it starts a war.
DON’T tell them they’re wrong? Ah. This explains why a few past incidents may not have gone so well…

McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

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