How to Deal with Difficult People: 5 Keys to Keep your Peace

There are times when two people need to step apart from one another, but there is no rule that says they have to turn and fire. ~ Robert Brault

It’s easy to lose your peace when confronted with difficult people. You know who they are: family and friends, co-workers and clients, even casual contacts throughout your day. Harsh words, bad attitudes and selfishness can spike your temper and raise your stress level.

To keep your peace, you need to develop some self-defense tactics – a mental arsenal to protect your emotions. Here are five keys you can use to calm your emotions and maintain your peace.

Shrug … “Oh, well!” is very effective. Surrender your self-righteous anger and hurt. Instead, show mercy – compassionate forgiveness. Assume that you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even better, ask them what is really stressing them out. Perhaps what they need is someone to listen.

Bite your tongue … Responding to a negative situation with more anger and sharp words only magnifies the problem. Instead, respond in love. Learn to follow the admonition of I Cor. 13: Love … is not touchy, fretful or resentful; it … pays no attention to a suffered wrong. (v. 4-6 AMP).

Sit on it … Time puts things in better perspective. Walk away. Table the issue for later discussion. If you can’t get away, change the subject. For an issue that must be addressed, set up a mutually agreeable time in a neutral location.

Forget-about-it! … Mentally revisiting the conversation or situation over and over in your mind is like repeatedly pulling the scab off an injury. It never heals. Stop the madness! Capture every negative thought (“I should-a said …”). You can’t redo or undo a conversation, no matter how much you want to.

Move on … Sometimes the best thing you can do is put distance between you and the conflict. Love them, but from a distance. If the problem lives in the same house with you, create mental and emotional distance for yourself (see above suggestions). Don’t get pulled into their issues

These tactics work even if you are not a principal player in the drama. My friend gets very tired of listening to her family argue and snipe at each other. She’s also learned that no amount of negotiation works. The combatants’ habits are so ingrained that they are unaware of the pain they cause others who have to hear their angry words and see their bad attitudes.

You’ve heard the expression, “hurting people hurt people”. Most people don’t get up in the morning determined to be mean and nasty or selfish and uncaring. They’ve just got ‘stuff’ going on in their lives, stresses that surface in sometimes inappropriate ways. Don’t take it personally. Instead, try these simple tips and keep your peace.



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