7 Steps to dealing with difficult people and conversations

Difficult people exist everywhere.

They come in every variety.

How you deal with them totally depends on your self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-assurance.

When you have high self-esteem and confidence you feel comfortable expressing how you feel. You do not waffle, or feel obliged to justify, defend or explain your reasoning. You know your rights, you feel worthy, important and deserving. You are willing to be open and to compromise, as you do not always expect to get your own way. You have an ‘I like you, but I like me too’ approach.

Dealing with difficult people and tricky situations means considering your options and processing things first before replying to an email or a text or a question or a remark.

Do not deny it if there is a problem, and do not smile when you are angry. Do not violate others’ rights, nor generate fear in others. Dare to be bold, dare to be authentic!

Here's seven steps to help you out:   

1. Use ‘I’ statements: This is very powerful as it comes from taking responsibility for yourself and speaking merely from your personal point of view and not blaming your feelings, thoughts or opinions on others. Remember: you need time to consider and respond to requests, not demands.

2. State facts, not judgements: Always label the behaviour, not the person. E.G. It’s not OK for you to be unkind about my appearance.

Use effective communication. For example, ‘I understand you need to talk; however, I need to finish what I am doing, so how about in an hour’, ‘Sorry, it doesn’t fit with my schedule’, ‘I cannot agree to this at such short notice’ or ‘I realise you are anxious but I find your tone inappropriate’.

3. Use open body language: Stand or sit straight. Your voice must be calm and gentle, but firm. Make direct eye contact.

4. Take ownership of how you feel: Use statements such as, ‘when you say xxx, I feel xxx’.

5. Put transformation into action by dealing with challenging people by learning how to use effective techniques by watching YouTube clips of people in the public eye you admire and studying their body language, tone and delivery of speech. Model how they behave.

6. Speak in a confident way when handling conflict by giving and receiving positive and negative feedback. Face the other person, look them in the eye, keep an open mind. Watch your words and use ‘could’ and ‘might’ instead of ‘should’ and ‘must’.

7. Do not use shaming language or manipulate others to agree with you. Do not act in a threatening or rude tone, or criticise others. Do not smile at them and then go behind their back. Do not humiliate others or flag up their shortcomings, nor speak loudly or use ‘you’ statements. Be the bigger person, sometimes killing those who drive you nuts with kindness is extremely powerful.

Remember: being assertive raises self-confidence, and self-esteem invokes courage and revokes fear because you can change from reacting to responding mindfully. Always remember the power of the spoken word. Take advantage of opportunities by dealing with difficult people and difficult conversations by practising being assertive, growing your courage muscles and taking control of your life.


Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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