Sept 2006 Newsletter
Audrey Nelson Ph.D, Inc

Smart Talk

Ouch! That Hurts:
The Three Golden Rules for Dealing with Difficult People

When I am upset I count to ten. When I am very upset, I count to one hundred.
Thomas Jefferson

...One of the most challenging communication encounters is dealing with difficult people. It is hard work on our part and requires exceptional emotional control. If you are like many of the people who have attended my training programs, it feels like we have no options or choices when we face the office bully at the water cooler. This thought pattern could begin a spiral down, out of control fall into victim hood. Remember you always have choices when encountering difficult people. I am going to present some “Golden Rules” to keep in mind when dealing with difficult people that will empower you.
Golden Rule #1:
Beware of the Buster Phenomena.

...Buster is my Jack Russell Terrier. He has no cortex (unlike us humans) and, unfortunately, does not have the ability to reason. Consequently, when he sees a squirrel across the street he will run in the path of a car to chase it. Buster is a stimulus-response kind of guy.
In contrast, we have the ability to reason and can exercise control over our reactions. There are moments when all of us have felt like reaching across that conference table and shaking someone for their rude and inappropriate comments. We have a choice of how we can respond. Often difficult people count on and hope for you to be like Buster. They want you to be a hot reactor. They hope you will throw yourself in front of the oncoming car to get to that squirrel. ...That is often the payoff for difficult people. They want to see you out of control. If you provide the payoff, they will be back tomorrow. You have become an easy target. Here are other choices instead of a reaction: silence, take a break, listening, take a deep breath or silently counting. These techniques can put you back in control. Remember don’t counterstrike!
...Difficult people are like menu items that have a hot pepper sign next to it. It is a warning that you could get burned. The above techniques can serve as an antacid. Neutralize, neutralize, neutralize.
*the other 2 Golden Rules will appear in Oct and Nov newsletters.

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