Geez! Where did all these crappy, grumpy, controlling people come from? Is it a full moon? Is the SLAP (Sad, Lonely, Angry People) convention in town?
Lately, it seems like everyone I’m close to is dealing with really tricky people. The SLAP kind.
If the SLAPpers are hanging out in your town too, here is a short course in how to deal with difficult people:
Your Emergency Response Plan is actually a series of short decisions.
Decision #1: Is This the Hill You’re Willing to Die On?
The first thing you need to decide is this – How important is it?
A friend recently shared with me that a common military expression is “Is this the hill you’re willing to die on?” Is this “last stand” material? Should you fight? Or should you retreat?
If the relationship is important but the issue is not, let it go. If the issue is important but the relationship is not, let it rip. If the relationship is important AND the issue is important, then you will likely need to respond.
Decision #2: When Do You Respond?
When I was a kid, my mother taught me to use the “24-Hour Rule” before responding to an emotionally charged situation. When something seriously yanks your chain, wait twenty-four hours before you respond.
On the whole, this is prudent advice. But, be careful! Because, for many, MANY women, this policy of WAITING actually leads to a chronic downward spiral of confidence. You give up your voice under the guise of prudence.
“Let’s not talk prudence while practicing evasion.” — anonymous
Make sure that your decision to delay isn’t really a handy excuse to let fear have control of your life. If you do that, you are swallowing your beautiful anger, which will lead to depression, misery, and hopelessness.
I’d like to suggest a modified response plan that was given to me by a friend. It is actually a series of three questions. When someone is yanking your chain, ask yourself these three questions before responding:
1. Does my thought need to be said?
2. Does my thought need to be said BY ME?
3. Does my thought need to be said by me NOW?
If you get a “YES!” to all three questions, then SPEAK NOW!
Decision 3: How Do You Respond?
This one is tricky. If you are a woman who has habitually run from challenging people who use fear to get what they want, it can be intimidating to take your stand again.
But remember, if you have run this situation through the above decision framework, you have already decided that it is both IMPORTANT to respond, AND it is important for YOU to respond NOW.
So gather your courage (or act “as if” you have some), take a deep breath, and do this:
“Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.”
This is the advice that one of my dearest friends suggests. We simply speak our truth. We do not stoop to anyone else’s level. We do not use name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or character assassination. We do not threaten, manipulate, or cajole.
We simply say what is on our heart and, if we can, we say it without rancor.
By the way, that “if we can” caveat is my addition to her suggestion. Learning to stand up for yourself is a process. And, like any new skill you are learning, it will improve with practice.
In other words, please be gentle with yourself when you are changing your self-defeating behaviors.
So there you have it! A short course in How to Deal with Difficult People.
And please don’t worry, love. We’ll do it together. Right here at Life After Tampons.
Much love, Jennifer
P.S. Could I please get your help? It’s really important. Would you please share this post with your friends and networks? We’ve tried to make it easy by adding the share buttons below.
P.P.S. And, let’s keep the wisdom flowing. Why don’t we make our Wisdom Circle comments section below a “best practices” for dealing with difficult people. Please add your suggestions.
photo: flickr, stephen-l-johnson