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Dealing with Difficult People

How to Deal with Difficult People

Some people are easy to be around and some are not. Difficult people can range from those who are a mild annoyance to those who can make life seem nearly intolerable, at times. Those at this negative end of the continuum, especially if we have contact with them on a daily basis, can jeopardize our mental and emotional wellness over time, particularly if we lack the tools for responding to them in an adaptive way.

Who Are The Difficult People?

Despite the fact that defining a “difficult person” depends on our own tolerances and abilities to respond adaptively to them, there are some people who have personality characteristics which many people find disagreeable. Here are some examples:

  • People who dominate conversations and never give anyone else a chance to talk – or people who seem to have no interest at all in what you have to
  • People who constantly berate themselves and others. Everything they say about themselves and others carries a negative message
  • People who can’t make a decision – and when there is any sort of conflict they hide out until they feel it is safe to reemerge. This behavior makes it difficult to work out the normal conflicts inherent in many
  • Gossips who seem more interested in everybody else’s business rather than their own. It is difficult to reveal anything about yourself if you feel that it may be taken out of context and spread to others. This leads to guarded and superficial
  • People who manipulate you into doing what they want. They seem to thrive on control, and you sense that your opinions or feelings don’t
  • Dependent people who seem unable to do things for themselves.
  • Angry people who seem ready to explode at any moment. Their “jokes” may carry an aggressive message and their passive-­‐aggression my lead to a lack of trust.
  • People who lie all the time.
  • The expert on Rather than talking they lecture – and they leave others with the feeling that their knowledge is insignificant. They seem to be in a constant state of competition.

Methods For Dealing With Difficult People

1. Staying Centered

When you are in the presence of a person who is driving you to desperation, try some “self-­‐talk.”   Think about your own strengths and your own capabilities to like and validate yourself. Understand that it is the other person who has the problem, but your responsibility to understand why you are unable to deal with this person.

2. Assertiveness

Assertiveness is not an expression of anger, but rather an affirmation of your rights as an individual. In response to the dependent persons constant pleas for help, rather than being driven to frustration, you might say, “I would feel more comfortable having some equality in our friendship, so I am going to ask you to call the restaurant yourself, just as I called the last time we went out for dinner.”

3. Confrontation

Sometimes an angry tone in our voice is the most effective way of responding to difficult behavior. Some people can hear loud and clear messages only when emotions are involved. “I asked you before not to gossip about me, yet it has happened again. I am angry about this! I don’t want this to every happen again!”

In a sense, we should be grateful that there are difficult people in our lives. Difficulties are an essential part of life and they give us opportunities to learn, to adapt and to achieve wisdom.


Building Intimacy is Vital in Marriage

Why Building Intimacy in Marriage is Vital

The hardest quality to build into a marriage is intimacy, both sexual and psychological. Our culture over the last 25 years has emphasized the sexual at the expense of the psychological.

Intimacy is a fundamental need for human beings.  It means being able to share our innermost self with someone else and having that sharing reciprocated.  In watching what damages marriage, I am most impressed that withholding who we are and how we react has become the kiss of death.

We are very fragile to injury in relationships in which we feel the most vulnerable.  Many people try to control the level of intimacy because of fear of being hurt.  For most of us, the single, deepest experience of being known in all our strengths and flaws is in the marital relationship.

How to develop and strengthen marital intimacy deserves the attention of both parties.  Many people feel they are not finding the fulfillment they had hoped for in their marriage.  They have a sense of aloneness, emptiness or just something missing.  You may also be married to someone who does not need the same degree of intimacy that you do.  What can be done about this?

Some questions to ask are:  “How well do we know ourselves?” and “How have we felt our spouse has responded to us?”  In my experience as a psychologist, the reluctance to report our reactions to each other hinders marital growth.  Now some things will always remain trivial and do not deserve your verbal reactions, e.g., how your spouse manages a household chore is probably not worth talking about unless it consistently irritates you.

When expectations are unconscious, uncommunicated, unrealistic, or unreasonable, you can feel betrayed when you have not been.  You need to examine the validity of your own expectations about a relationship.  You may have wanted or expected something from another person, but he or she never agreed to give it.  Believing that if your spouse really loved you, he/she should be able to read your mind or that partners in “good” relationships rarely disagree are myths.

What you do with irritation is crucial.  Many times the temptation arises to blow such reactions off, but the resentment barometer rises.  The debris of irritation can collect into a sturdy pile.  Given sufficient time, enough material can get between partners that the distance increases and the silence becomes very telling.

Read more:

Young Couple Sitting on Love Seat

Communication Dead Zone

The Communication Dead Zone: What to Do When Your Partner Refuses to Talk

I don’t want to talk about it.”  Few sentences conjure up as much feeling for the listener as hearing this refusal to talk.  Such a commitment to silence often dooms a relationship, whether between a husband and wife, or child and parent.  The listener feels so very frustrated in not knowing what to do next.

4 Tips to Break a Communication Deadlock

The following are several suggestions to change this communication deadlock.

1. The listener needs to drop the desire to pursue the refused topic.

No jackhammer or psychological technique will open up someone committed to silence on a particular area. If the listener realizes the topic itself is far less important than the reasons for not talking, it is easier to move away from a concentration on whatever the “it” is.

2. It is logical and important to focus on the reasons for not wanting to talk. 

The listener is advised not to badger the other, but rather to offer several possibilities as a way of learning what is stiffing communication. It is worth exploring whether there is a conviction on the silent one’s part that talking about it just won’t do any good. There are many people who really believe that talk is unnecessary because actions speak louder than words. This confusing logic suggests talking is not a behavior.  More importantly, though, how has the conviction that conversation is futile been reached?  Usually there are some specific experiences that have driven this point home and talking about those experiences may help resolve and offer a different perspective to the present decision to remain silent. Others believe that silence is golden if the alternative is to hurt someone’s feelings. It is up to the listener to determine if he or she would rather be ignorant and blissful or learn some painful bad news.  Ordinarily knowing what is wrong is easier to deal with than being left in the dark. Another possibility is that the refusal to talk is in reality a statement of anger.  If this is the case, then asking the speaker to elaborate on his resentment becomes the pertinent topic.  A final possibility is that the speaker is unclear and unsure of what exactly his or her reasons are to avoid discussions.  The listener can reassure the other that he or she is willing to be tolerant of the fuzziness or the lack of eloquence in the spoken word because the message itself is worth working on no matter how plainly and/or foggily put.

3. The listener can promote communication, even with this deadlock, by talking about his/her reaction to this impasse. 

It is natural that the first response to being closed out is an angry one, but it becomes important to go beyond that to elaborate on the sense of hurt that this isolation brings.  There is nothing as persuasive to opening up as the experience of seeing another person sincerely reveal himself or herself.

4. The listener concluding this interaction with a willingness to listen at another time, at least puts in the other's mind the chance that a time for talking is possible in the future. 

Sometimes fatigue or stress can make it difficult to open up.

In summary, gentle focus on “I don’t want to talk about it,” remains important.


The Role of Friendship in Rebuilding a Relationship

The Role of Friendship in Rebuilding a Relationship: A Strong Foundation

Do you know anyone whose relationship fell apart and then months later came together again? It happens quite frequently and if you were to run a microscope over their relationship, you would most likely find one common thread – friendship. Not common friends, although they can help. We’re talking about friendship with each other.

Rebuild Your Relationship by Going Back to the Beginning

You would be surprised to see that most of these reunited couples did so by going through a getting-to-know-you dating process first. And it can work, if friendship is there from both sides. What is more interesting is the success rates of these renewed relationships – they have a very good track record. There are a lot of psychological issues at play and  many clichés that run true, remember, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, or “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” that is until you get there.

There is often one far more important issue at play – and that is maturity. Often, the first time around was more a love/lust relationship than one based on friendship. The second time around, being more mature, and with friendship as the base, the relationship has a much better chance of success – and happiness.

Is your partner your best friend? He or she should be. Close friends can talk to each other often without fear of retribution. Sure, best friends argue, and they may even go through a period of not talking to each other, but somehow, over time, they mend their bruised egos and the friendship reforms. You can do the same with your relationship if you are prepared to take it slowly, and to start by becoming the very best of friends.  If you need help, give us a call.


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