Creative Coaching

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Quick tip for dealing with difficult people

Shift disruptive patterns with more grace

A tricky member of the team, a stakeholder who blocks conversations, a family member who makes inappropriate comments, a boss who consistently turns up late. How do we deal with the mis-matchers, the de-railers and the “difficult” people who stand in the way of getting good things done?
In this month’s blog we consider how we might shift the mental goal posts and make it easier to come up with resourceful, graceful solutions to interrupt disruptive patterns (and people).

When people behave unusually and cause trouble, we make meaning out of their behaviour. We experience them as disrespectful, undermining or even insulting to us. We mind read their motivations:
“They aren’t listening to me as they think I’m not up to the job”. 
“They feel threatened by me, so they’re turning up late”.
“They’re attacking my work as they want to get rid of me”.
Or even
“They are behaving like that as they are a vindictive, difficult, bitter person”.
From this mental place, the thoughts we have rest on these assumptions. We will come up with ideas of how to deal with a vindictive, difficult, bitter person. We might even action those ideas in that frame of mind. From that place no good can come!
Another, more resourceful, way forward is to make the assumption that the “difficult” person is doing the best they can in their circumstances, given what they know. Their behaviour may not make sense to us AND from their point of view it’s the best course of action they can take right now. There might be things going on for them of which we have no knowledge (they crashed the car on the way to work, things aren’t great at home, they feel nervous or threatened, their cat just died). They are doing the best they can right now.
From this standpoint of unconditional positive regard we might begin to consider - if they are behaving ‘badly’ - perhaps they are struggling themselves. Their behaviour in this moment is simply a side effect of their state of mind.  From here, we are likely to feel more well-disposed to them, therefore less reactive and more connected in our responses.

Next time we’re going to look at a helpful tactic arising from unconditional positive regard, and imagine practical interventions for dealing with the mis-matchers in our lives. Until then, we’re keen to know how this approach lands with you.
With warm wishes from

The Creative Coaching team

Image by chrisstenger at Pixababy

Posted on Tue, June 06, 2023 in Coaching General Leadership Personal Development
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