Once would expect at a certain time of life that challenges with difficult people would either no longer bother us, or we’d be well versed in dealing/working with them. However, I’m finding even today, where I can pick and chose clients, friends and colleagues that that is not always so! Sometimes when talking with others, whether clients or friends I wonder ‘how did they get so far in their career with that attitude?’ What on earth are they thinking, when they make remarks like that? What was I thinking? My negative thoughts, judgments and fault finding, something I try not to do, and certain when working as a coach I shouldn’t be doing. When I find myself in that position it’s galling to know I’m not as immune as I would like, and that strangers can still press my buttons and tie me into knots.
Finding Myself at a Junction:
Finding myself in this situation, where I don’t want to continue working with someone any longer, where it’s time to drop a ‘friendship’, where I find myself at a junction, it’s time to admit that it’s not working. We are all experts in our own life, and we have choices. When I find myself having to bite my tongue, where it’s my reaction not their need that I’m reacting to. I have to step back and take an overview of our relationship.
My reaction has had me researching and wondering if and how I might be able help others to see how their behaviour impedes them, our relationship, and maybe even reaching the dreams they hold dear.
Whether working with individuals, or chatting to friends, if I find myself questioning something, I often go back to my first impressions and intuition… what did I first think and/or feel about the individual? What was it about them that gave me these impressions? My impression of those who feel they know it all is that many of us are insecure, some lack empathy and others may have an oversize ego. Harsh, maybe but often true. In her Gamache series, Louise Penny’s protagonist poet Ruth published a book of poems called ‘I’m FINE’ . An acronym: F#*ked up, insecure, neurotic, and egotistical! I love this description of such a common banal way of responding to ‘How are you?”, it tickles me in the right way and in my mind fits these types of personality.
What to do:
Research has led me to two ways to deal with people that I find difficult: I can just avoid them, or I can try and help and support them. My conclusion is that if I decide to work or play with them, I need to mix the two sets of advice. So if a client or friend acts in a way that tries me, I will try to:
- Set my boundaries and stick with them
- Not allow my buttons to be pushed, listen and avoid arguing
- Give feedback, encourage others to speak and ask questions strictly related to what they have said
- Model listening skills and demonstrate respect of others – I’ll only interrupt if they gossip or they are negative about others
- Take notes of everything and where decisions have been made, confirm my understanding
- Pick my battles
And, if everything else fails, I can always fire them as a client or friend!
Negative behaviour is catching:
However, it’s not so easy if you have to work with someone, or are dealing with a family member. My suggestion would be to follow the above rules, but also to avoid them as much as possible, negative behaviour is catching and you may find yourself following their example without realizing. If you’re working with someone who has this type of personality try and see the humour in the situation(s); who ever knows everything! Find a friend or family member outside work who you can confide in, however limit your time in doing so, or else they may grow tired of listening.
One life to live:
Remember life is for living and you only have this one life. You are in charge of how you live, surrounding yourself with negative people or ‘know it all’s’ will affect your mental health and happiness. So if you find yourself having to work or socialize with someone like this, take time away and do what you can to ensure you don’t absorb the negative energy that surrounds them. Live the life you have been given with joy, gratitude and happiness. And, if you need support to instigate changes, or to stand up to negativity, contact me and set up an appointment for a free discovery session.