The following are two of the most fundamental truths about difficult people. If you understand these, then you have the basis for beginning to be able to work with them successfully:
Most difficult people do not know they are being difficult.
Pretty heavy, right? But this is really important to understand. The few who do know they are being difficult either have trouble controlling themselves (and often will admit it), or they don’t care that they are being difficult. But if you really take this idea to heart you will understand that this person who is upsetting you is probably not doing it on purpose. They just have a really hard time seeing themselves as other people see them.
I knew a guy once, he was on my team, who was so difficult that even some of his friends referred to him as…well, I won’t use that word here. He didn’t have a clue – he thought he was an upstanding, straightforward, pragmatic guy.
This is one of the reasons that “Self-Awareness” is one of the “Seven Keys to Understanding and Working with People.” If you practice (and yes, it is something we have to work on), self-awareness, than the chances are you are not the one adding difficulty to the equation, but that is where the next truth comes in:
If you see another person as being difficult it is highly (most) likely that he/she will see you as being difficult.
Sure, the person you are dealing with may be seen by almost everyone else as being difficult, but remember it is unlikely he/she sees himself/herself this was. What they do see is someone who THEY are having difficulty with. You may even be one of the nicest people in the world – doesn’t matter to them — from their perspective, you’re trouble.
Here’s a final thought which ties in very importantly to both the ideas above and I will discuss this next time: It NEVER pays to point out to someone they are DIFFICULT or BEING DIFFICULT.
Remember – Negativity breeds Negativity!