Can You Confidently Handle Difficult People?

These people are everywhere! Sometimes we can simply avoid them but this isn’t possible in the family or workplace.

If you follow the recently published ‘advice’ of a celebrity hypnotist (Daily Mail Jan 2012) who offers to ‘make you confident’; you will just imagine a ‘confident you’ ahead of you and then ‘walk’ into this person – several times; and then tap various points on your body too.

However these Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Emotional Freedom Techniques will still not give you the skills needed in the real world to enable you to cope with the intense anxiety that a lack of confidence brings when you are faced with a real challenge from a difficult person or situation.

If you fear that you will crumble, or disintegrate, if you are ever challenged; then you need to have already found, and become well acquainted with, what verbal and body language the Adult-you can use to change the dynamic in your favor.

In brief there are 3 stages to consider:

– The event/or anticipated event

– The inner dialogue and belief system

– and the way you then behave.

We cannot change an event but we can change our perception of it as well as our perception of ourselves. Furthermore we can learn ways of speaking and expressing ourselves that is both confidant and assertive.

Unassertive behavior is either passive or aggressive.

Assertive behavior comes from a place of ‘I have a right to say what I experience and what I want/prefer/need’ in any situation. This is the expression of the competent/confident/assertive/rational Adult-you.

We all carry around our own unique history and ‘story’ about ourselves and our life, and many people continue to re-enact aspects of their life over and over in the hope of changing the ending of their drama. But without a new ‘script’ they are doomed to keep repeating the same unhealthy scenes.

You may find yourself on the receiving end of someone else’s ‘drama’ – but you don’t have to accept this.

Perhaps your own genes and life experiences have meant that you have a tendency to shyness, over cautiousness, people-pleasing, lack of self-esteem/worth. Or maybe you have become the ‘difficult’ person to be around?

Some people express their self-doubts and sense of inferiority by adopting a ‘miserable victim’ persona; or they may over-compensate by becoming an ‘aggressive bully’. Either can negatively effect everyone around them… this way of ‘infecting’ others is called Emotional Contagion.

We were probably not taught at school how to be confident and assertive – quite the opposite in most cases I’m sure! For many of us these skills would not have been welcomed back at home, and so we have had to wait much later to even know that there was a different way to deal with difficult people and situations.

We may have had parents who were not calm and emotionally-balanced, and they couldn’t then model self-respect and good self-esteem to us. Perhaps as children we were not invited to talk about ourselves and our opinions or perceptions. We may not have felt of value or worth in the most important place – our home.

We may have been bullied at home, at school and at work; and we can now unknowingly ‘invite’ people to still treat us badly because that is what we ‘know’, and expect.

We may still operate like the wounded-child we once were, and have only the limited verbal expression of this child. When we are anxious we cannot think clearly and we cannot express ourselves clearly. Instead we are predominantly focussed in our Emotional or Limbic brain – ready to fight/flee/freeze or flop.

The good news is that we can learn to develop a new ‘inner dialogue’ that supports and affirms us and our right to be treated well by others – and the right to walk away from people who aren’t able to treat us well! We can also learn what our healthy ‘boundaries’ are and how to set and maintain them in the face of opposition and conflict.

Learning and understanding about ourselves is the first step to change. We also need to learn about how and why we experience difficulties with others; and which part of this is our responsibility and which part isn’t. We can develop skills that will enable us to express ourselves clearly and effectively… and to handle those ‘difficult people’ we will inevitably encounter. There are several levels of communication – ranging from shallow chit-chat to the most personal self-disclosures; and there are different ways of communicating effectively too.

This can be like learning a whole new language and a new way of communicating with people from all walks of life – which really is liberating and empowering, both personally and professionally.

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