Dealing with Difficult People – the Negative Friend

by | May 24, 2017 | Relationships | 0 comments

I was asked the other day about how to deal with difficult people. The advice to walk away from them was almost on the tip of my tongue, but of course, you can’t always do that. They may be a colleague, another parent at school, or even a relative and they all have one thing in common – they make you feel bad about yourself or block something you are trying to get done.

So what can you do about them?

The first thing is you need to understand them. And the most important thing to understand is that most of the time, it has nothing to do with you at all, it is all about them: they are so inwardly focused and often selfish that they really don’t give you a second thought.

One type of difficult person is the friend who is negative about everything. If they haven’t suggested it, it won’t work; if you are trying to organize an event, then they pick holes in whatever anyone is doing and suggest that it will be a disaster and no-one will come. You should really feel sorry for these people as they have such a sense of deep disappointment in their lives and feeling of not being in control of their own destiny that they try to bring everyone down with them.

Armed with this knowledge, that it’s not about you, but about them, remember to keep the personal out of interactions and have a good sense of what you want to achieve before you talk to them. There is no point in trying to argue against their pessimism, but, bolstered with the knowledge of what you believe you can achieve, along with some well thought out reasons why they may think it won’t work you are in a good position to move forwards.

Ask them for suggestions or solutions to the problems they forsee, and be ready trot out some ideas yourself of what can go wrong and how to fix it, so they don’t ambush you with it later when you are less prepared.

Be ready to take the lead in whatever you are trying to do, as they won’t want to take action unless they are 100% sure they can control the outcome and be successful. Diffuse possible upsets later when things do not go to plan by second guessing the criticism heading your way and playing ‘negative remark bingo’ with yourself. Remember they are not trying to be difficult. They genuinely have trouble believing anyone else can do anything and as for your feelings or frustrations, they will be completely bewildered if you mention them, taking the role of martyr for themselves as they claim you have misportrayed them or misunderstood them.

So, take a deep breath, and value your own judgement and ability. Don’t let them get you down.


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