Dealing With Difficult Personalities: Webinar Recap
Written by, Laura Wright
Webinar: May 10, 2023
Difficult personalities come in and out of our lives on a regular basis. Often, we are forced to interact with them at work or within family situations and do not have the option of walking away when things get rough. Difficult personalities can consume a lot of our time, energy and patience which can cause a significant level of stress in our lives. This seminar will discuss ways to limit the negative effect that difficult personalities can have on our lives.
“Now I’m not a psychologist or an expert in this subject,” Laura Wright jokes as she begins her presentation, “but I did learn a lot after researching this and I was able to filter through my own experiences.” In her 25 years of experience, Laura has learned a few things:
- Some people who are labeled ‘difficult’ are just responding to the world in a way they can manage. It doesn’t mean that they are bad
- Everyone is difficult at times
- You can’t change people, but you MAY be able to change behaviors
When dealing with difficult people it’s important to keep in mind that people are just trying to have their needs met and they’re doing that in the ways that they can manage; which may come off as ‘difficult’ to some. We all have our ways of going about this and everyone can come off as difficult at times.
If you take a moment to reflect on the difficult people in your life: your family, friends, maybe your boss. How do you interact with them? How much energy are those interactions taking from you? What works and what doesn’t work in those heated moments?
Now what if we said to stop and think about yourself during those interactions. How can you work on yourself to make situations with difficult people better? That’s what a lot of Laura’s seminar is about: spending time working on yourself to better understand why difficult people behave the way they do and how you can make the interaction smoother.
Dealing with difficult people is not about trying to change or fix them, it’s about how you perceive things and how you let these kinds of interactions affect you. First things first, you need to prepare your mindset to deal with a difficult person.
- Be hopeful
- Be strong
- Trust your gut
- Protect your personal boundaries
- Seek help
- Remind yourself that you’re not responsible for the happiness of others
What do each of these mean?
Remaining hopeful is just staying positive about the situation. If you enter the situation with negative thoughts and feelings, chances are the interaction won’t go well.
These interactions take a lot of energy, so you want to make sure you’re entering at your strongest. That means you’re not tired or rushing to your next meeting, you’re strong and in the right mindset.
Always trust your gut. That will guide you through the interaction and determine if something makes you uncomfortable and set boundaries when necessary.
Speaking of boundaries, setting them and protecting them is very important. This difficult person is making you uncomfortable because they’ve crossed a boundary and it’s important to make sure they know what your boundaries are and for you to hold fast to them. They’re important to you for a reason.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may want to speak with someone before you go into the interaction to toss around ideas and get advice, not to gossip.
Last but not least: you are not responsible for the happiness of others. You can’t change someone’s mind, their attitude, their life, or the situation. Their happiness is only up to them.
“As women, we often try to give people a lot of leeway and “just deal with it” when we shouldn’t. Everyone has stuff going on, but that doesn’t give them an excuse to treat you in a way that is unacceptable.”
Next Laura touches on some overall approaches such as don’t rationalize or dismiss difficult behavior. As women, we often try to give people a lot of leeway and “just deal with it” when we shouldn’t. Everyone has stuff going on, but that doesn’t give them an excuse to treat you in a way that is unacceptable.
A lot of times difficult people are approaching you in a heated, emotional way. It’s important for you to think and speak factually so as not to escalate the situation. As mentioned earlier, knowing you can’t “fix” people is an important thing to understand. You can only control your actions and reactions.
Tackle issues as soon as possible. “If something hits your gut – remember to always trust your gut – as being uncomfortable for you, deal with it right away.” Laura states. Don’t let things lie and fester. Set boundaries immediately and correct behaviors as soon as they happen.
Another important factor in confrontations: overcome your own emotions. These interactions are already emotionally heated, you want to maintain control of yourself. When approaching these situations, take a moment to change your mindset. Is this person asking
for help with their attitude and actions? Is this the only way they know how to communicate that? Take a moment to consider why they may be acting this way. And remember, their actions are not about you, so don’t take it personally and remain calm. Some people are just out to get a reaction out of you and if you lose your cool, they win.
Empathetic listening is a great way to navigate a tense situation. Actively listen and figure out where they’re coming from and why they feel the need to act a certain way. Let them know you’re listening and that you hear them. They may be acting out because they just need to feel heard. It may take some extra time to execute this, so be prepared to devote the proper time necessary.
Along with empathetic listening, operating with an ethic of mutual respect is another useful tool. Going back to keeping your cool, don’t let their behavior dictate how you respond. Just like you want to be treated with respect, everyone else does too. Approach the situation with integrity and respect yourself while also respecting them.
All in all, when entering into these tense situations, make sure you manage your expectations. Base your expectations on facts, nt emotions. You could do everything right and still nothing helps or gets resolved. Some things may take a little extra time and patience. But if the situation becomes potentially physically and/or emotionally harmful, get out. No one should be subjected to physical or emotional distress and you have every right to remove yourself completely from the situation.
There are many different types of difficult personalities, all of which Laura will cover in the next Lunch and Learn webinar on July 12, 2023. Tune in to learn about the different types and how to handle each one!
To watch the full webinar on Dealing With Difficult Personalities, visit our YouTube channel where you have access to every Lunch and Learn we’ve done so far!
About Laura Wright
Laura Wright is CEO and co-owner of CSW, Inc. based in Ludlow, Massachusetts. CSW, Inc. provides prepress solutions to the packaging industry and is known for providing high quality products, technical expertise and support. Clients include Blue Triton Brands, P&G, Boston Beer, WestRock, Packaging Corporation of America and Rand Whitney. Laura has served on the boards of the Pioneer Valley Montessori School, the Flexographic Prepress Platemakers Association, MicroTek Inc., The Flexographic Technical Association and New England Public Media. She is an active member of the Flexographic Technical Association, the Association of Diecutters and Diemakers, and Associated Industries of Massachusetts. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 1988 with a B.A. in Biological Anthropology. She currently resides in Northampton, Massachusetts.