When we are working in recovery, rehabilitation and RTW we often find ourselves facing people who can be labelled as difficult. We know them. Many of us have met them time and time again. Maybe we have even been a difficult person.
There is a lot written about identifying a difficult person and how to communicate with a difficult person. My experience as a Rehabilitation Professional tells me that people often appear difficult when they feel threatened or are experiencing a lack of control. But is such simplistic worldview enough to help a difficult person become an engaged person who is committed to recovery?
Have we ever stopped to think about what is making someone difficult?
We often receive referrals for customers who will, as an aside exclaim “this client might be difficult”. Instead of fearing the perception of difficulty we know that this is our sweet spot. I asked Purple Co Rehabilitation Consultant Kylie Warry to write a response to this often asked question “How Do You Deal With a Difficult Person”?
- Kylie has very graciously shared her thoughts and ideas with us. This Blog was first published by Kylie and she has agreed for us to Publish it here.
Guest Blog – What Makes Someone Difficult?
By Kylie Warry
One of the most popular questions I get is how do you deal with a Difficult person? Each of you, almost every day will come across someone you find difficult to some degree.
Perhaps that are bossy, or talkative, maybe they don’t say anything, and you need them to speak up or perhaps they are pedantic and get caught up in the details. Either way they are not doing what you need them to do and its PAINFUL…….
Managing how we respond in these moments is critical to the outcomes you will get. As you may imagine, getting frustrated, short fused or impatient with someone that you are finding difficult, is only going to add to the problem you face.
It is critical for us to approach this age-old problem from a different angle. I firmly believe that coming from a place of understanding is a much more helpful way to approach someone you are finding difficult.
We can start this by stopping and recognizing what is it that I am actually struggling with here? Is it their behaviour, their attitude or are they reminding me of something I don’t like? Am I stressed out because my wants and needs are not being met? Is it all of the above?
Many of us even though we are adults can get stuck in this place of selfishness, “I need this right now and I am not getting what I want so I am going to get cranky”. We have all been there. Acknowledging this is part of helping ourselves learn a better way.
I truly believe that most people are not difficult……. Wait…. What???? Seriously? Yup, I actually believe that most people are not DIFFICULT, they are DIFFERENT.
Not different as in weird, simply different to you.
For example, on most days I am in a hurry, not because I am late, but because I am the type of person that just likes to get things done, I am an “achiever.” I do not know why it is, just how I am made. It is a trait of the Powerful Communicator, “get it done, get it done fast, and then do the next thing.
As you can imagine, if I am going about my day and I need to interact with someone who does not have the same priority on time and achievement as me, there can be some tension. Before I was aware of this and how it affected me, I would just see someone in my proximity moving slowly and my eye would begin to twitch. It frustrated me, because I did not want it to affect my progress.
Now that I am much more attuned to this need in me I can separate myself from it most days and even have a chuckle at how crazy my need for speed is…….
This need for speed has been a gift at times, I am extremely efficient and achieve loads, BUT… I have paid a very high price for this in terms of my health. So much so that my poor body has been screaming at me for years to slow down and I ignored it. So, what ended up happening???? I developed chronic illness, including chronic fatigue……. My body was forcing me to S…L…O…W D…O…W…N
I remember years ago on my first trip to Fiji. Man, I needed it – talk about being on the verge of burn out…… Yes, us achievers are not good at resting and slowing down and unfortunately have to experience things like burn out or illness before we get the message to fill the tank and look after ourselves.
It took me at least 4 days to begin to slow down in this tropical paradise. Every time I sat by the pool I would start mentally going through a to do list, should I plan or read that self-development book or set my intentions for the next 12 months…………. Far out brussel sprout!!
I would find myself becoming tense as I watched the locals slowly meander around the resort at a snail’s pace (otherwise known affectionately as Fiji time) and my blood pressure would rise. I felt like screaming move faster! How completely ridiculous. In a moment of clarity, I realised what I was doing to myself and just how crazy it was. Why was I rushing? What deadline was in my mind? Why is faster better??? You know what – it isn’t… Sometimes slower is the way to go.
Realising what your needs are, what is driving you and then seeing how whenever a person comes into conflict with this we see them as difficult. This is really the beginning of a healthier shift in dealing with people in a more helpful way.
You will slam into people that are different to you on a daily basis so the most helpful thing I have found is to first understand yourself and your needs and then begin to understand others.
We’ll start by looking at each of the Communication DNA styles, so you can begin to see where you might be, and also where those you struggle with might be. From this place we can put more helpful responses in place when you are struggling with someone that is different to you.
If you would like some background reading on the Communication DNA styles, then you can read about each one here:
- The Powerful Communicator
- The Playful Communicator
- The Patient Communicator
- The Perfectionist Communicator
Until next time Care, Connect and be a Courageous Communicator.
Let’s change the world we live in, one conversation at a time.