How To Deal with Difficult Situations and People

None of us enjoy doing the difficult things in life. Obviously we prefer the path of least resistance. I am one of those people. I would rather go out of my way to avoid difficult people and situations than plowing head on into them. Why create additional stress and pain when you don’t have to right?

Life has a way of forcing us into those difficult things at some point in our lives. I’m sure you know those people who thrive on confrontations although I honestly think those people embellish it more than it actually is.

I know there have been times that I was determined to avoid someone when I walk around the corner or the elevator doors open and there they are. Right in the space I want to occupy.  No way of escape or evasion.

Difficult people and situations require us to dig down deep to pull out the best that we can be. I won’t lie. It’s awfully difficult at times. Somehow we are often led right into the Lion’s Den. Sometimes you walk right into ground zero where you are face-to-face with your enemies. No avoiding it and no getting around it. It takes courage to summon up the strength to get through those moments.

So how can you and I survive these moments in our lives?

First, never forget who you are. Don’t let someone else tell you who you are. They don’t know you. They are basing their information on what they think they know about you. People tend to take parts of the truth and then fill-in what they THINK the truth is. There was a time in my life when I had to face a difficult person more often than I liked. I always had to spend time to prepare myself mentally before being around them. I finally learned that this person’s opinion of me was just their opinion and didn’t mean they were right. I just put an invisible shield around my feelings and let them act however they wanted.  Don’t allow others to tell you who you are. You know you. Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you matter.

If you are in the face of a difficult person, answer with a soft answer and never allow them to get you worked up. You are in control of you. When you lose control of yourself or the situation, you will lose control.  Stay calm.  When a situation is emotionally charged, it’s easy to get caught up in it.  Control your breathing and take deep breaths.  Raising your voice or speaking harshly in return will only add fuel to the situation.

Be willing to give something or someone a second chance. This isn’t always easy but might be something that is worth pursuing. People change sometimes.  Listen and try to understand why the person is being difficult.

Difficult people and difficult situations aren’t fun but we can get through them without injury. I am not the best success story in managing these situations but I am learning. These are things in life that we can learn from and make us stronger.

There is always a time and a place for confrontations. I hate them. Sometimes you have no other option but we can stay in control of us. Know who we are and refuse to let difficult situations or people to change that.

Yes, I know this all is nice but it’s a different story when you start feeling those butterflies in your stomach and you know you are going to go through a difficult situation or face a difficult person.  I don’t like that feeling either.  Control yourself and be strong.  Don’t let the person or situation intimidate you.


Are You An Attorney?

I was asked this question yesterday. I suppose I looked like one with my tie neatly tied and walking the hall like I belonged there.

This was an odd exchange and I have not been asked this before.

When I answered that I was not, the expression on the man’s face changed drastically to one of disgust as if he had been talking to the help.

No, I am not an attorney and I don’t play one on TV.

In my younger days I might have been offended by the man’s response but today I know who I am and what I do. I don’t need a title. I have worked in a support role for my entire career. This role has been very good to me. While those with the titles get the attention, I have always been proud to make them look good and be part of the team. I remember once when I was asked to go with a group to conduct an inspection of an Air National Guard unit in the Virgin Islands, my supervisor made it clear that we were there to work first and then we could enjoy whatever time we had left. I respected him for that and I put my all into doing my part. In fact, I recall everyone doing their job and when everyone did their part we were all rewarded with time to enjoy the island.

I think it is important to know your role and be the best you can be. I used to try to compete with other colleagues in my field but quickly learned that I didn’t need to do that. Just do what I do.

This week begins my 28th year with my current employer. I have been in the support role of many attorneys. I am not ashamed of that role and have been happy with the many experiences I have had over the years.

So, I’m not going to be bothered with someone acting like I’m something they have stepped in because I am not an attorney or anyone important to them. I don’t have time for the condescending game. I’m not playing it. Bye Felecia. Go find your attorney. Just don’t surprised when the time comes when you need me.

Funny how things change when you are needed isn’t it? Someone can’t give you the time of day but when they need something, suddenly they need you. Yes, I have had that happen many times. The best way to react is just to be the same. Don’t try to prove anything to anyone. Just be the professional at what you do.

Oh, I have dealt with many instances of condescending situations. I will be honest and tell you it hurts but not as much as it has in the past. I have learned that if you do things to seek the approval of others that you will never do it. You can say “yes” and always volunteer for everyone and everything but the one time you say “no” or let something slide, that’s the only thing people will remember. That one disappointment wipes out the many things you’ve done before.

I don’t have time for that anymore.

People probably think I’m rather eccentric. Good. Keep them guessing. I am who I am. It’s funny how others get a free pass because “that’s how they are” yet when YOU exercise that same theme somehow you are the bad guy.

Nope. Not on my watch.

People have called me moody before too. Yes, I admit I am at times. Sometimes I am not good at filtering as I am at other times. Honestly sometimes I don’t feel like doing it. Dealing with some folks just takes too much work.

Sure, maybe I am moody and eccentric but I know who I am and I know I’m not an attorney. Deal with that strange guy in the hall!

Learning To Let It Go When You Don’t Want To

giving-a-complimentI have a problem which I am trying to fix.  I tend to have expectations of people and situations only to be disappointed and – at times – totally stressed out about it.  I have learned that I can’t possibly be the enforcer of manners and expectations of people to do their jobs.

My wife and I talked about this recently and decided we would try a new approach.   Instead of being frustrated with the actions of others, we have tried to take the attitude to “let it go”.   Our happiness can’t be dependent on holding others accountable for when they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.

This past weekend I saw an example of positive reinforcement in this area when my wife and I were seated at a restaurant for lunch.  We were seated next to a table of about five of six teenage boys.  I know both of us were thinking “oh great, this isn’t going to be fun”.   Much to our surprise, the boys were not unruly or disrespectful at all to others around them.  In fact, it impressed my wife so much that when they left she followed them out and complimented their behavior.  I’m sure those guys didn’t know what to think about that.

I have had the opportunity to practice this “let it go” thing many times.  I must confess that it doesn’t come easy for me.  Someone once accused me of always trying to fix things and right things that I saw were wrong.  Yep, that’s a serious flaw I have.  I’m trying to do better.  When I had to call a contractor to come to take a look at some heating issues at our house, I prepared myself mentally in having low expectations with their service.  This same company had been out before and all the fussing I did on a previous service call accomplished absolutely nothing.   Sure enough, they came out and gave some bogus excuse for not doing the work and they left.  I simply let it go.  Was I happy about it?  No but I was prepared for it.

Then after being out of work for a week, I had hoped some things would be covered and discovered they were not.  I could have fussed and complained but I haven’t — yet.  I expected it and came into it with low expectations.

I am seeing that instead of fussing at bad behavior that recognizing good behavior seems to do a whole lot better.  So, I would say that looking for reasons to compliment someone might be a lot less stressful than fussing at people who disappoint us.  The toxic people in our lives really aren’t worth the fuss and we are the ones that end up messed up over it anyway.

Let me just assure you that this “let it go” thing isn’t easy.  It takes work.  It takes a conscious effort to do it.  Sure, my first reaction is to rip into someone who isn’t doing their job or a situation that is not acceptable.  It is the realization that I no longer live in a time where manners were important and being respectful was common.  In fact, common sense isn’t very common anymore.  It simply doesn’t exist in abundance which is all the more reason to recognize the positive when it happens.

I was really impressed with my wife and how she complimented those guys at the restaurant on their good behavior.  I need to be more like her.  She has a big heart and is not afraid to express herself in that way.  We both have had our frustrations over people and situations in the past.  We have found ourselves trying to correct bad behavior or try to get people to see what they are doing.  You know what?  People don’t care.  You can confront them, reason with them and even show them and they are simply going to do whatever they want to do.

It’s still going to bother me when people say the F-word.  I’m going to be irritated when someone presses the elevator button when it has already been pressed.  I still won’t like it when people refuse walk on the right side of the hallway.  I will still get ticked when the contractor is lazy and won’t do their job.  It’s still going to be difficult when I get lousy service at a restaurant.  I never said I was good at this letting go thing.  I’m just saying I’m giving it an effort.

And I still don’t like Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Seriously though, if we all tried to look for good then there would be hope for us yet.  None of us like being disappointed and we all have expectations that aren’t always met.  That’s life.  Crappy people and things happen.  The recipe for a happy life is to not let external things hinder that happiness.  I’m not saying we should all float around saying “It’s all good”.   One of my relatives used to say that all the time and it made me sick.   No, it’s NOT all good.    Let’s don’t go to the other extreme either.  There are times where confrontation is appropriate.  I can tell you that I’m not going to whimp out when it is time to confront someone but I will pick my battles a little better now.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:21)