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Night Shift Doctor Mom Greatness Series #4: Dealing with Difficult People

Night Shift Doctor Mom Greatness Series

This is the fourth blog in this series aimed at helping you to move your own small mountains and stand tall in greatness. Have you ever been in a situation where you are dealing with a very difficult person? What is your first response when that happens?

Our natural tendency is to be defensive when we are attacked or perceived as being in danger. Difficult people can present in a myriad of ways with varying degrees of intensity. If the situation becomes physically threatening or you feel like you are in danger don’t deploy these techniques, just seek the help of the police.

These tips are for non physically threatening situations. More than likely these will be best applied to people that you interface with on a daily basis or whom you have to deal with through your job or community activities.

4 Tips For Dealing with Difficult People

  1. 5 Minute Rule. Sometimes waiting it out and allowing the person to vent and offload what is on their mind is all it takes to bring them back to a reasonable state. It can be very difficult as the listener to allow someone to talk for five minutes without interrupting but if this simple action is all it takes to bring them back, then it is well worth it. When we tune people out when they start on a rant, we unfortunately trigger an escalation in their negative mood and behavior. We all have a deep desire to be heard so taking those five minutes to listen actively can make all the difference. Now, this is not to say that you should tolerate being yelled at or abused. That kind of behavior is not appropriate and should not be tolerated. While the person is talking, take mental notes of how you can provide feedback and solutions for their issue.
  2. Separate the Person from the Situation. Sometimes the person on the other side is not aware of their behavior. If they are yelling at you, that should not be tolerated at all. This can be diffused by saying something like, “when you yell at me, it is very difficult to one understand what you are saying and two to believe that you respect me”. Again, if someone is ranting on, they are likely to be very emotionally charged up. They may not realize that they are getting in your safe space, yelling and spitting as they bark out their thoughts. Making them aware of the situation and how they are coming across can be eye opening. Often times, this will allow them to realize how abrasive they are coming across and an apology will ensue. It is very difficult to find solutions when the information cannot be conveyed.
  3. Put the Spotlight on Them. Changing the focus from negative commentary to a more constructive one. So if the person is saying that they think you did a crappy job on a project, ask them what about the project was not optimal. This forces them to think about specific things that they identified and provide specific feedback. It is easy to rant about what you doesn’t work but it takes insight to be specific and offer constructive feedback. This also allows for them to see that you are open to new ideas and will gain you respect as a leader.
  4. Lead Instead of Following. Take control of the conversation. Do everything that you can to control the tone and direction of the conversation. If you have tried all the above tips and the conversation is still coursing along a negative path, change it to neutral ground. This can be done by using the phrase, “by the way, how about…”. If you have some personal knowledge about this person then talk about their hobby or family. Changing the course of the conversation unto a positive or neutral topic can be the ultimate in difficult person whispering.

So these are just a few quick tips to help you deal with difficult people you come across. If you become adept at this, you will be seen as a leader for sure. It is always easier to tune out these people or to get caught in their negative energy. Rise above and shine!

If you found this blog post helpful, please comment below and share it.

Be strong. Be brave. Unleash your greatness!


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Charmaine Gregory

I am a nocturnist Emergency Physician, wife, mom to three vivacious cherubs as well as a greatness and virtual fitness coach. I help busy women like myself reclaim their fitness and wellness mojo and unleash their greatness! Watch my story and get a complimentary health assessment here: My Story If you are like me and have picky eaters in your fold, join my Facebook group, Picky Eaters Strong Mom here: Picky Eater Strong Mom Facebook Group

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