How Managers Can Find Compassion For The Difficult People In Their Lives

by drjim on October 18, 2018

Even difficult people need compassion

Even difficult people need compassion
Image Credit: Steve Bridger

As a manager, you are called upon to to use your manager skills to interact with a lot of different people. Some of those people may be on your team and some won’t. Some of those people will be easy to get along with and some will, how shall I say this, be difficult to get along with. When it comes to these difficult people you can both avoid them and make it harder to get your job done or you can find ways to be compassionate towards them in the hopes that you’ll be able to work with them. No, it’s not going to be easy and you don’t have any manager training on how to do this, but the payoff will be worth the effort.

How To Deal With Difficult People

One of the first questions that a manager often asks is “why should I bother trying to show compassion towards somebody who is difficult to deal with?” It turns out that the answer is because by doing so you will experience a collection of health benefits. These include avoiding the disappointment of interacting with someone who is difficult and the high blood pressure that comes along with having to do this.

The key to having the best possible interaction with someone that you find to be a difficult person is to make sure that you take the time to adjust your thinking. You need to adjust your thinking about the person before you encounter them. You want to take the time to learn how to feel compassion for them. If you are able to cultivate compassion for others, then you will be able to better regulate your negative emotions such as stress and anxiety. At the same time you’ll be able to increase your positive emotions such as calm by working to become more compassionate.

It turns out that there are four different stages to feeling compassionate towards someone. In the first state, you recognize the suffering in someone else. In the next state, you are moved by their suffering. Next you wish that the other person did not suffer. In the final state, you feel motivated to find a way to help relieve the suffering. Where things get interesting is that determining that you want to help someone is left up to you. It turns out that just being willing to help them out is all that it takes for you to experience the benefits of feeling compassionate towards someone else.

Steps You Can Take To Deal With Difficult People

Fine, so there’s a difficult person in your life. Now what? What’s the best way for a manager to deal with a difficult person in their life? The first thing that you don’t want to do is to suppress your thoughts. If you try to do this, you will fail and you will experience negative consequences. Suppressing your thoughts will result in you feeling more anxious and could have a harmful effect on your physical health. This is also going to end up making you think about the difficult person more often than you will want to.

Next you are going to have to own up and admit that at times you can be difficult to get along with also. This is what the experts call the “just like me rule”. What you are trying to do here to understand that just as this person may be difficult for you to deal with, you need to understand that you may be difficult for them to deal with. The thinking is that it will be humbling for you to remember this and it may make it easier for you to deal with this difficult person.

Finally, you need to take the time to become curious about this person. Take just a moment and think about what it must be like to be the other person. Your goal here has to be to try to tap into the struggles that they are facing. You need to realize that they too have both hopes and dreams. As you tap into their struggles, you will find that you are now able to let go of some of the anger and anxiety that you feel with you interact with them. The result of this is that it is going to have a positive mental and physical effect on you. Keep in mind that you don’t actually have to forgive the other person, your goal is simply to reduce the amount of emotional reactivity that you’ll experience when you interact with them.

What All Of This Means For You

As a manager one of the key aspects of your job is that in order to be successful, you need to interact with a lot of different people. Some of those people will be easy to interact with, some will turn out to be difficult. Although it could be easy to just decide to avoid the difficult people, it turns out that they may be important in helping you accomplish all that you need to get done. What this means is that you are going to have to learn how to find compassion for these difficult people and do some team building.

The first challenge that you are going to have to solve is how best to deal with the difficult people in your life. Coming up with a way to deal with these people is important for you because otherwise they can have a negative impact on your health. You are going to have to adjust your thinking and understand the four stages of dealing with a difficult person. In order to successfully interact with a difficult person, you are going to have to not suppress your thoughts. This won’t work and will just end up harming you. Next you are going to have to admit that at times you can be a difficult person to interact with also. Finally, you need to become curious about this difficult person and take the time to better understand them.

In a perfect world, we’d all get along with every person that we met. However, that’s not the world that we live in and so we need to find ways to get along with the difficult people that we will be meeting. Using the techniques that we’ve discussed, you can now find ways to overcome your natural aversion to dealing with difficult people and instead discover ways to build bridges to them.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What do you think that you should do if a difficult person decides that they don’t want to talk with you?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Of all of the issues that managers have to use their manager skills to deal with in the workplace, it’s possible that religion might be the most difficult. The reason for this is simply because there are so many different religions out there and none of us have any manager training on how to deal with them. Even within a given religion, there may be many differ offshoots which all practice their faith differently. What religion we choose to follow is a deeply personal decision that goes a long way in defining who we are. It can be very difficult for us to interact with other people who have chosen a different religion from ourselves. As a manager you are going to need to find a way to get all of these people with different beliefs to work together…

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