Learning how to manage types of difficult behavior from the people in your life makes a huge difference in how you feel about a person when you understand what drives their behavior.
It is common to think that if someone doesn’t agree with us, they’re wrong.
If they look or act or speak differently to us, then we have to be on guard in case they can’t be trusted.
And if you are even a little bit “on edge” then being around that person can be stressful. The same thing happens when people are different to what you are used to or what you expect.
Have your ever been hurt and bewildered by the way someone has treated you, or spoken to you?
- Perhaps they’ve snapped at you or been abrupt when you didn’t think it was warranted.
- Perhaps you have had to deal with a bully at work, or one of your colleagues is always complaining and being negative (and it’s not long before you want to avoid that colleague!).
- Do you get annoyed when someone is so pedantic and particular about things that they are unable to relax until everything is perfect? You can see they’re a bit OCD, and that means you can’t relax when you’re around them.
- Or on the other side of the coin, perhaps you live with someone who never puts things away, is messy in the kitchen, forgets to do their chores, even after you have discussed the chore-sharing until you’re blue in the face!
- Do you have arguments at home because you want to stay in and watch TV and your partner either wants to go out all the time, or have friends over for coffee?
- Do you get fed up when you want to think something through quietly on your own, but your partner wants to talk about it?
These are some of the ways in which ordinary people differ. It doesn’t mean they are all difficult people. It doesn’t mean you are right and they are wrong.
It means they are different to you. To them, your behaviour is probably annoying.
A difficult person is somebody who has certain personality or emotional traits which make it very difficult to communicate with.
Some people are feelers and some are thinkers. Some are introvert and some are extrovert. Some are laid back and others are highly strung or overly anxious. This impacts on other people, for sure, but it doesn’t mean the people are incompatible, or that the relationship is doomed.
It makes a huge difference in how you feel about a person, if you can understand what is driving them to act the way they do. In other words, you don’t take things personally.
A person’s behavior is driven by a need to feel better.
When a person’s behavior is inappropriate and impacts others in a negative way, we call it difficult behavior. But behavior is almost always a means to an end, and if you can understand this in your partner/parent/child, you may have a different way of managing your frustration.
You won’t be able to change the way they behave, but you will be able to do things differently in order to manage the other person’s different personality. They end up feeling respected for who they are, and you end up feeling less annoyed and a bit more connected. It’s a win=win!