The difficult people who we encounter can be our greatest teachers.

Eileen Anglin

Do you cringe as much as me when you reminisce on difficult personalities you’ve dealt with before?

It’s one thing to come across a rough personality when we’re going about our day and will soon never see that person again, but it’s a whole different ball game when we are forced to deal with a co-worker or boss who makes our lives a living hell…

More time is spent with our coworkers in the workplace than with our family or friends. Unfortunately for all of us non-digital nomads, it’s inevitable to work with difficult personality at some point in our lives.

The tough part about this difficult personality we’re facing is that we will continue to face the personality we despise until we find a way to fix what’s broken in ourselves that causes the aversion. Until we can heal what’s broken in ourselves, it’s important to use the difficult personality to improve ourselves where we can.

I know it isn’t easy…

There was a time in my life where I was given an opportunity when I desperately needed it (like was about to give up on my dreams-type opportunity) by one of the most difficult personalities I had ever come across in my life.

This person was:

  • Condescending
  • Didn’t respect a woman’s opinion
  • Heard only what he want to hear
  • Took a word within a sentence and attached their own meaning to it, even if it isn’t anything CLOSE to what was actually said
  • Always thought he was the smartest person in the conversation
  • Treated others with disrespect
  • Had no vision of what his actions would result in, causing him to do ridiculous things, that would clearly lead to a negative outcome
  • Short fuse
  • Constantly belittling co-worker’s abilities in front of others (CLIENTS TOO!)

Take those traits and multiply it by 10. That’s the person I was dealing with, and I was relying heavily on our ability to work together. It took everything in me to avoid telling this person to **** off every 5 seconds.

Now, the obvious advice when dealing with a person you despise sounds something like: ignore them, don’t stoop to their level, etc. What I found to be more empowering is that there are few ways to constructively use this personality to improve your life.

How I did it

When I found myself incessantly thinking about how difficult this person was, I shifted my mind to focus on finding a way to avoid getting emotionally charged or mentally clouded during my interactions with this person.

If you’re emotionally triggered by another’s actions or words, it means a part of that energy still exists within you. So, the only way to really overcome it is to release any of that energy that is stored deep within you so this person no longer has an effect on you.

The below 3 tactics completely changed my day-to-day experience with this person, as well as allowing me to dig deeper in myself and find a solution that I would have been blind to if I let my emotions cloud my situation.

3 tactics to use a difficult personality to improve your life

There are only two kinds of people who can drain your energy: those you love, and those you fear. In both instances it is you who let them in. They did not force their way into your aura, or pry their way into your reality experience. – Anthon St. Maarten

1. Look within

What can you change, improve, or fix about yourself to make the situation better? What exactly does this person do that causes you to stress? What can you work on that might allow you to handle it better?

Most of the time, when another person bothers us on a deep and unbearable level, it’s because they exhibit a trait that we either wish we had, are worried about having, or it’s a person that forces us to step outside our comfort zone to effectively communicate to.

Try to use this different personality as a way to learn more about yourself.

As yourself, “What part of me is bothered by the action or words?”

2. Listen with the intent to understand

Avoid listening with the intent to explain, justify or be understood. Simply listen with the intent to try to understand a different point of view.

When entering a conversation with the purpose of compassionately listening, you’ll find yourself asking better questions and improving your mindset surrounding a difficult situation.

Rather than reacting by telling the opposing person why they’re wrong, start by asking a question to understand their point further.

If you can be compassionate toward a person you can’t stand, then you have a great reason to be proud of yourself, and you’ll be a better friend and partner to the people you care deeply about.

PLUS, if you ask the right inquisitive questions, you can creatively use empathetic questions to help the opposing side understand your point.

3. Don’t try to beat them at their game

Difficult personalities drive you crazy because their behavior goes beyond reason. You might find yourself justifying to others how this person is in their own world and how they’re driving you (and everyone around them) insane.

You may even be trying to make other’s aware of this person’s faults. Don’t fall into the trap of their energy, and don’t try to beat a difficult personality at their own toxic game.

Instead of trying to vent and justify, try treating it like a little psychology experiment. Keep track of the different ways you communicate. What triggers them? What triggers you? What calms them? What calms you?

Instead of trying to beat them at their game and match their energy. Create your own game around growth and compassion.

Check out what works, what doesn’t, what causes reaction A or reaction B. If you can learn to use an extremely difficult personality to improve your own communication abilities, you’ll be on your way to handling anyone you come across. You’ll also learn creative ways of effectively communicating your points in any scenario.

Dealing with personalities that drastically clash with our personality becomes a significant test of patience, humility, and compassion. It forces us to either look within and grow, or fall to their level and blame. If you change your mindset around the situation and look at it as an opportunity to level up, it eventually turns into a task you feel motivated and excited to overcome. 

Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment with your experience, and be sure to scroll down and subscribe so you can receive articles right to your inbox!

You might also like:

Using your emotional intelligence (EQ) to change your life: here

The neuroscience of flow, plus its dark side in business and in life: here

How to get what you want: here

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