Stop be­ing dif­fi­cult, N.S.

South Shore Breaker - - Games - DAR­REN STEEVES STOP WISH­ING FOR FRI­DAY dar­ren@ven­durawell­ness.com

We all do it.

We all deal with dif­fi­cult peo­ple or peo­ple we per­ceive as dif­fi­cult.

You ask them, and they would say, “I am not dif­fi­cult!” This type of per­son can el­e­vate stress lev­els quickly. It is hard when you are work­ing on a team that is not a team, with peo­ple who are dis­grun­tled or have a per­son­al­ity dis­or­der.

It’s not just the time in their pres­ence ei­ther, it’s the time lead­ing up to be­ing in their pres­ence, the time spent de­brief­ing in your head and then the time vent­ing to fam­ily or friends about the en­counter. It can eat up a big chunk of your day, es­pe­cially if you have sev­eral peo­ple like this in your life.

Your re­silience bat­tery can take a real zap when you have dif­fi­cult peo­ple at work, at home, in your so­cial cir­cles or in your im­me­di­ate fam­ily. This can be a big drain, like when your cell­phone is in a weak re­cep­tion area and you don’t re­al­ize how hard your phone is work­ing to ac­quire a sig­nal un­til it is warn­ing low bat­tery.

This is like your life. All these peo­ple are zap­ping you and you don’t even re­al­ize it un­til your bat­tery in flash­ing red.

You’re tired in the morn­ing, you have less en­ergy, you’re snap­ping at ev­ery­one, you want to spend more time alone … these are all signs your bat­tery might be get­ting low. You need to know the signs of when to plug in and recharge.

You could de­bate you have two op­tions: de­tan­gle or learn to work with these peo­ple. I have done both in the past. Both could be eas­ier said than done. Re­gard­less, you prob­a­bly need to limit ex­po­sure if you are feel­ing the symp­toms.

The idea

You want to de­crease your re­sponse to dif­fi­cult peo­ple. You are ready to make a change. You have tried be­fore and were not suc­cess­ful. You get sucked into their drama, their prob­lems, read­ing into what they are think­ing and feel­ing. They are not in­ter­ested in get­ting bet­ter or mak­ing the sit­u­a­tion bet­ter or per­haps their per­son­al­ity makes it near im­pos­si­ble. This will al­ter your tac­tic.

En­gi­neer­ing a strat­egy that works

The first step is to fig­ure out if you are de­tan­gling or us­ing strate­gies to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion. Ei­ther way com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills are im­por­tant.

You need to let peo­ple know. I am not say­ing de­tan­gling is easy. You might want to have less ex­po­sure to a fam­ily mem­ber but still be there when they re­ally need you. You prob­a­bly can’t — and don’t want to — cut them off but you might not be able to do an hour on the phone ev­ery day.

If you de­cide to stay in the sit­u­a­tion, here are a few strate­gies that might help. Stay calm and carry on

When in the mo­ment and it is es­ca­lat­ing, it’s easy to re­act to an emo­tion­ally charged sit­u­a­tion. Keep no­tice of your breath­ing rate, the tone of your voice, how and where you are stand­ing. Re­cently, they made po­ten­tial as­tro­nauts stay in a small tube for four months to get ready for the po­ten­tial of go­ing to Mars. They mon­i­tored the tone of their voice, how close they talked to oth­ers and word recog­ni­tion soft­ware … “jerk,” “hate,” etc. Check and reg­u­late your­self.

Don’t judge

I re­mem­ber read­ing Dr. Dwyer’s work in the 1990s. “Stop be­ing of­fended, don’t judge, give up your need to win,” were just some of his teach­ings. Not easy. Keep in mind you don’t have a full pic­ture of what that per­son is deal­ing with that day. They are likely feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble or have some fear. Try the com­pas­sion­ate route, the road less trav­elled.

Say­ing “I un­der­stand” makes it worse

To defuse, ask: “Tell me more so I can un­der­stand bet­ter.”

Save the smile and the joke The per­son will most likely feel mocked and jok­ing nearly al­ways back­fires.

How to sus­tain your mojo?

Keep in mind your own per­sonal health is im­por­tant. Most likely deal­ing with dif­fi­cult peo­ple is drain­ing. You need to re­mem­ber you help no one if you’re strug­gling. Keep this in mind if you are in mul­ti­ple sit­u­a­tions and are start­ing to feel it. You might need to pri­or­i­tize your peo­ple and fo­cus on those most im­por­tant re­la­tion­ships. Your job puts food on the ta­ble, so this might be at the top.

The en­vi­ron­ment

If you are a leader in an or­ga­ni­za­tion or the fig­ure head of the fam­ily, lead! Ad­dress this is­sue head on in a safe en­vi­ron­ment. Get pro­fes­sional help if needed. Em­ploy a psy­chol­o­gist, get hu­man re­sources in­volved, hire a con­sul­tant. Ig­nor­ing it is the worst. You can have all the fit­ness chal­lenges, fam­ily bar­be­cues and games nights with friends but work­ing on it needs to be some­body’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

In the work­place it most likely means pol­icy de­vel­op­ment and, even bet­ter, is to ad­dress it in meet­ings. Put it on the agenda reg­u­larly. What does deal­ing with dif­fi­cult peo­ple look and feel like? How do we ad­dress it? Do a barom­e­ter check prior to the meet­ing with a sur­vey. If the nee­dle has moved ask the ques­tion why. Why did it get bet­ter? Why did it get worse? This can help eval­u­ate a pol­icy im­ple­men­ta­tion.

No one said this was go­ing to be easy. We have an en­vi­ron­ment that is neg­a­tive, top down.

Look at our pol­i­tics and our me­dia. Peo­ple some­times see be­ing dif­fi­cult as part of their job and they are not self-aware enough to know when it is help­ing some­one learn or just be­ing a jerk. You don’t have to tell them they are a jerk, maybe just that it’s not help­ing the sit­u­a­tion. Now!no­vas­co­tia is The

Chron­i­cle Her­ald’s look at what needs to be done to re­vi­tal­ize the prov­ince’s econ­omy. Please share your thoughts and ideas.

Email us: Nowns@her­ald.ca

@Nowno­vas­co­tia #NOWNS

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Know the signs of when you need to plug in and recharge. Dar­ren Steeves is the owner of Ven­durawell­ness.com, a com­pany ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing or­ga­ni­za­tional health one step at a time.

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