Compassion’s Role in Dealing With Difficult People

As I’ve shared previously, I love the practical and try to share strategies here as much as possible. Today I want to share Elena Aguilar’s 10 tips for dealing with difficult people taken from Chapter 8: Cultivate Compassion in Onward. I just love how she uses a lens of compassion when dealing with people we perceive to be difficult.

  1. Listen to their complaints, but without comment. Be very careful that you’re not feeding their negativity.
  2. Don’t get hooked on their story lines or worked up about their attitude. Imagine you’re watching stormy weather.
  3. Get curious about what’s going on for them. Your curiosity can stay in your mind, or you can ask a truly curious question or two.
  4. Don’t take other people’s behavior personally. It is never about you.
  5. Cultivate awareness of common ground. It’s there, somewhere. You might have to search, but find connections.
  6. Remind yourself that people can change. Make sure you’re not holding onto a fixed mindset about their ability to grow.
  7. Say this to yourself: Just like me, this person has suffered in her life. Just like me, this person wants to belong. Just like me, this person wants to be happy.
  8. Stay clear about your own values. You can let go fo anger (if you want), be compassionate, and stay true to values.
  9. Give yourself permission to step away. Draw boundaries.
  10. Ask for help. Turn to a colleague, a coach, or your supervisor, share what’s going on, and ask for help in dealing with the person.