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Impossible People

Difficult people are going to pop up from time to time.  And you are going to have to deal with them.  If you have a job that requires working with the public it will happen a lot.  The question is how can it be done smoothly and without losing your own sanity. Here are a few tips to help keep you from flying over that counter.

  • Check your own attitude.  Try to remember this person is trying to get their needs met.  Don’t judge them.  This goes a long way in keeping your own sanity through the encounter.
  • They are throwing anger, maybe insults; don’t catch that ball and throw it back.  Stay calm.  Stay in control of your emotions.
  • Ignore as much of the “bad” behaviors as you can.  If they get “too bad” ask them to please stop calling you names, etc.  Remind them you are trying to help and their behavior is making to hard for you to think of solutions. Say it calmly.
  • Be detached.  If you become emotionally charged, their behaviors will increase.
  • Use “I” statements, not you statements.
  • Speak softly.  Move calmly.  Keep a neutral expression.
  • Take a lesson from our animal friends, make yourself larger.  Stand up, face them full on, and look them in the face.  This may back them down a bit.  It will make you feel stronger and more able to deal with the situation.
  • Listen carefully.  Don’t shake your head “no”, this doesn’t look like listening.
  • Try to acknowledge their feelings.  “You seem very frustrated about something.”
  • Ask what the problem is.  I know the problem is you are being attacked.  Something lead to that attack and often doesn’t get stated in all the name calling and blaming.
  • Repeat their complaints.  This makes them feel like you are trying to understand them.  It may also prove that you didn’t understand the problem.  It is easy to miss something when people are spitting fire at you.
  • Try to find something in the complaint you can agree with or at the least you can say is true.  Makes a big difference for you both.
  • Ask what would solve this problem for them.  “What can I do?”  Offer choices.
  • If they need a time out, give them one. ” I need to look something up.”  While you are doing that chat about the weather or something.  Give them a chance to breath.
  • If you need a time out, take one.  Find a reason to walk away.

When it is over, let it be over.  Don’t spend the rest of your day and energy reliving it in your mind, talking about it to everyone, and posting complaints about it on Facebook.  Try to let it go.  Forgive yourself for any mistakes you made in the encounter.  Forgive them, because that is about your well being not if they deserve it.  Go and have a good day!


About Geraldine M. Brown MS, LPC, LIMHP (162 Articles)
I hold a Master's Degree in counseling. I am a licensed professional counselor and a licensed independent mental health practitioner. I have over 25 years of experience counseling people from all walks of life.

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