We all encounter difficult people throughout our lifetime; some more difficult than others. It is how we deal with them that determines whether we remain affected by the encounter or not.
A Young Man’s Challenge
Recently I had a conversation with a young man who works in the food sector. He was serving me and as I was considering my choices to order, he was half-listening in on a chat colleagues were having in the back. He apologised and I assured him it had not affected me in any way, nor did I hear what they had said.
His colleagues were discussing how to best manage the situation with a repeat customer who insists on being served by the same person each time. If that person is not available, there ensues the beginnings of a difficult person experience for the staff.
No amount of explanation tends to appease the dissatisfied customer. The staff maintain their courteous friendly service, yet the encounter stays with them afterwards for a bit.
They have all found a way of neutralising this negativity that could potentially otherwise permeate the atmosphere for hours and embark upon this as soon as possible after the customer has left.
Sadly, I suspect that difficult person would leave their mark in other places throughout the day.
The young man asked if I have worked in the food or retail sector and I replied that I have. I added that I understand the challenges of difficult people experiences, especially when you are providing customer service.
As I finalised my purchase, we bid each other a great day and I went about my errands with a gratitude for the chat with this young man and that I no longer work with difficult people.
My Own Challenge
My day continued with a grateful heart and I enjoyed the tasks I undertook. Little did I know that this conversation was to have a lingering effect upon me.
That night, I slept soundly and dreamt. Upon wakening, I recalled the dream and one of the people in it, is someone in my life who tends to be a difficult person. I immediately thought of the young man from the day before.
I sense my subconscious was also reminding me that I do have encounters with a difficult person. The difference is, these days, I choose when I will have contact with this person and for how long.
What makes this person difficult is the opinionated, single vision they have, and no-one can be right unless they agree with them. Their mind is not open, nor is their heart. Bitterness sits in the core of their being. It then exudes from them when someone is not in agreement with their opinion or belief. Ugly haughtiness often follows. Their behaviour speaks volumes, far louder than their words.
Here, I have control. If I catch this person on a day when this is prevalent, my time with them is short. There is no value in spending my precious time with this negative energy.
Once more, gratitude prevails. I am thankful for the dream that reminded me that I do have encounters with one difficult person. And that is it – just the one difficult person. Thankfulness remains for the times when this person is not being obstropolous, and their great wisdom can be imparted.
The Opposite to being difficult – is being kind
Lessons are learned from people who are difficult to be around and engage with. They remind us to always meet others with kindness. And if nothing else, they show us how not to be.
Another piece I wrote, Engage with Kindness, is a story from last year, particularly around the elderly. In fact, kindness is essential for everyone, regardless of age or any other factor.
Further reading – a helpful article by Barbara Markway from Psychology Today – 20 Expert Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People