Most of us don’t live in a Nirvana where everyone behaves perfectly and treats us how we would like to be treated. Therefore, a skill worth having is knowing how to deal with difficult people.

Not Everyone Has Good Manners

Last week I worked on a project that I reluctantly took on because my client is sort of a friend. I worked very hard on it, and it was a struggle dealing with his nitpicky team. One night, I stayed up four hours, well into the next morning to get things done for my client. What bothered me the most about the situation wasn’t his team of difficult people but that he never even thanked me for all my extra, hard work on the project. I let it upset me for only that night; then I let it go. Not everyone has good manners, and I can’t expect them too, regardless of what I want or need.

People Don’t Behave as We Wish They Would

My best friend’s mother is sometimes consumed with how her son and daughter-in-law parent their child. She is quite outspoken about it, and it bothers my friend and I. We often rush to their defense, reminding her that it’s “none of her business,” and they are good people with their own style and choices. You can actually feel her bristle because she wants so badly for them to behave her way.

We all do it from time to time. A lot of us want our significant other to read our minds and treat us accordingly. We want our parents to love us unconditionally and our children to be forever grateful. But honestly, how often do any of these things happen as we want them to? Not very often.

Therefore, we have to learn how to cope and let others be exactly what they are, not what we want them to be. We cannot change them; we CAN change ourselves.

A Calm Meditation to Learn From

I struggle with the judgment of myself and others. Recently I listened to a Calm Meditation that resonated with me because it dealt with this very subject. It was a nice reminder for me.

The story went that a man and his children boarded a bus. The kids were running around crazy and acting out, while the man just sat there and didn’t seem to notice. The other passengers got annoyed, and finally, someone spoke to him about his unruly children. He apologized saying, “I am sorry, we have just come from the hospital where my wife died. I guess they are not handling the death of their mother very well.”

Wow! Instantly my perception of the situation changed. My irritation evaporated and turned into compassion and empathy. I felt so sad for the man for losing his wife and the children their mother. Isn’t it funny how our perspective can change so much with a little more information?

What You Don’t Know is as Important as What You Do

So, you see, most people probably do have pretty good reasons for acting the way they do, but we only see one side of it and how it affects us. Often, we react or respond without seeing the full picture and that can make it worse for everyone.

Some questions, my very dear, wise friend asks before making a judgment are:

  • What conditions are these people living in, what choices do they have?
  • How did their upbringing affect them?
  • What is in their past that makes them behave this way?
  • Are they genetically inclined to be a certain type of individual?
  • Do they really have any control over who they are?

He prefers to think of everyone as a sick person, and that way, he finds it easier to lend them compassion and understanding rather than judgment. What a lovely way to live.

The Best Way to Deal with Difficult People

Very rarely do we have all the information to make a proper assessment, yet we respond without fully understanding. Once we learn the truth, sometimes it drastically affects how we view the same people that a minute ago were driving us crazy. We are all just human.

The trick is to remember before you pass judgment that there are factors you aren’t aware of and may never know. Most of the time, you won’t get more information, but you can stop, think, and decide how you want to respond. You always have a choice to be a better person.

The best way to handle difficult people is always to err on the side of compassion and understanding and be kinder than they were. You can never go wrong with that one!

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