Wise Ways to Deal with Troublesome People
By Sandy Schroeder
We all know people who create problems wherever they go. They thrive on negativity and chaos as they push people’s buttons, create complications and ignite stress. Long-term, stress threatens health and sabotages effectiveness at work.
Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart, an agency that serves 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies, recently outlined effective ways to defuse difficult people to reduce stress.
Bradberry says remaining calm under pressure is directly linked to job performance. Ninety percent of the most effective people understand this and find ways to calmly handle difficult people. He suggests, “control what you can and eliminate what you can’t” with these techniques.
Take the high road – Diving in to duke it out with a troublesome person simply invites disaster. Instead of letting their agenda set the scene, try stepping back to just handle the facts, skipping all of the emotional chaos. Interact with them calmly and then move on.
Impose limits on complainers – Complainers tend to settle in and run nonstop. Listening to complaints works best when there are time limits. After they state their issues, ask them how they plan to fix the problem. If they have ideas, discuss those, but don't stay for a rehash.
Establish boundaries – When you interact with people and they repeatedly create negativity, rise above it by setting up boundaries to neutralize the impact. Decide where and when you will interact, and stick to it to reduce stress and create a better situation. Having boundaries gives you a chance to assess the other person’s behavior and respond in ways that work for you.
Choose your battles – When you find yourself involved in a toxic situation, find an exit and move on with your day. Sticking around to respond to or cope with toxic behavior simply wastes time, or worse, takes an emotional toll.
Enlist some good support – Turn to the wisest, most trustworthy people that you know for advice and perspective. As you talk about a difficult person, others may be able to provide better solutions, or another view of the situation.
Move on, but remember – Letting go of a toxic situation frees you, but staying free means you take a long look before you get involved in the same situation again. Learn from each situation and protect yourself in the future.
If these tips for coping with troublesome people help, hang onto them and learn from each situation to improve your performance and feel less stress.
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