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Avoiding conflict while dealing with difficult people

Avoiding conflict while dealing with difficult people

1234455​There will always be people in your life who make things difficult for you. In most cases, they won’t be deliberately making your life more difficult but in some cases, they may do so. Either way, you need to take action to make sure these people stop having a negative impact on your life. If you sit quietly and do nothing, these difficult situations will continue; maybe even get worse. If you do decide to deal with the issue, you run the risk of the situation escalating into a conflict. Avoiding conflict is important for your sense of peace and happiness but you can’t put up with poor treatment just so you can avoid conflict. The good news is that dealing with difficult situations and avoiding conflict can go hand in hand. You just need the right strategies and a little forward thinking.

There will always be people in your life who make things difficult for you. In most cases, they won’t be deliberately making your life more difficult but in some cases, they may do so. Either way, you need to take action to make sure these people stop having a negative impact on your life. If you sit quiet and do nothing, these difficult situations will continue; maybe even get worse. If you do decide to deal with the issue, you run the risk of the situation escalating into a conflict. Avoiding conflict is important for your sense of peace and happiness but you can’t put with poor treatments just so you can avoid conflict. The good news is that dealing situations and avoiding conflict can go hand in hand. You just need the right strategies and a little forward thinking.

Note

There is no such thing as a difficult person. It is just a repeated pattern of difficult behavior which that person chooses to use. However, for illustrative purposes, people find it clearer when we use the term ‘difficult people/person’ so I will use that term. Just make sure that when you find yourself in a difficult situation, you focus on the behavior rather than the person as that will get you the best results.

You can improve your communication and relationship skills with my FREE Checklist – Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing with Difficult People.

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​4 Powerful Strategies for avoiding conflict 

4 Powerful Strategies for avoiding conflict

​The following are four strategies which you can employ to deal with difficult situations while still making avoiding conflict a key aim:

The following are four strategies which you can employ to deal with difficult situations while still making avoiding conflict a key aim:

​1. Set boundaries

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  1. Set boundaries

​There are certain behaviors which will never be acceptable to you. You may get angry when somebody behaves in that way but do you have the right to? Have you communicated the fact that you won’t tolerate that behavior? That is what setting boundaries is all about. If other people are clear about what you will and will not accept, you will find that most people will happily avoid the unacceptable behaviors and thus avoid the conflict that may come with them.

Boundaries are really one of the best tools for avoiding conflict. Unfortunately, many people feel as though they have effectively set boundaries when they have not. They stop at the point where they have determined what is and is not acceptable. In doing so, they fail to make it clear to others.

If the people who interact with you regularly are not clear about your boundaries then you have not set the boundaries properly. When communicating, you must remember that the meaning of your message is the meaning received by the other person. For example, ignoring somebody​des not constitute communicating that you are unhappy with something they have said or done. You have only communicated that message when you have explicitly informed them that they said or did something wrong and you have made sure that they understand.

When setting boundaries, you may need to give the message more than once but once you have done so, avoiding conflict becomes easier because people know the consequence of the unacceptable behavior and are more motivated to avoid that consequence.

If you have trouble setting boundaries, check out My Life; My Rules

There are certain behavior which will never be acceptable to you. You may get angry when somebody behaves in that way but do you have the right to? Have you communicated the fact that you won’t tolerate that behavior? That is what setting boundaries is all about. If other people are clear about what you will and will not accept, you will find that most people will happily avoid the behavior and thus avoid the conflict that may come with it.

Boundaries are really one of the best tools for avoiding conflict. Unfortunately, many people feel as though they have effectively set boundaries when they have not. They stop at the point where they have determined what is and is not acceptable. In doing so, they fail to make it clear to others.

If the people who interact with you regularly are not clear about your boundaries then you have not set the boundaries properly. When communicating, you must remember that the meaning of your message is the meaning received by the other person. For example, ignoring somebody is not communicating that you are unhappy with something they have said or done. You have only communicated that message when you have explicitly informed them that they said or did something wrong and you have made sure that they understand.

When setting boundaries, you may need to give the message more than once but once you have done so, avoiding conflict becomes easier because people know the consequence of the unacceptable behavior and more motivated to avoid that consequence.

If you have trouble setting boundaries, check out My Life; My Rules

​2. Don’t blame

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  1. Don’t blame

​Eliminating blame is one of the most powerful steps you can take towards avoiding conflict. Blame puts people on the defensive. They feel like they are being attacked and nobody wants to feel that way. Blaming somebody else when things go wrong can lead to them lashing out at you or others. Alternatively, it can lead to them withdrawing back into their shell which doesn’t serve anyone either. The same goes for when you blame yourself.

Blame implies that somebody did wrong deliberately. It assumes that they were acting with negative intentions. Life is far better and conflict is rarer when we assume that other people always act with positive intentions the better approach is to encourage everybody to accept responsibility and demonstrate the same yourself.

Accepting responsibility is one of the most powerful things you can do. You are saying that something you did contributed to the negative results. This means that if you change that behavior and choose a better option, you are going to get a better outcome next time.  The important thing to note here is that you are focusing on the behaviors/actions which contributed to the unwanted outcome; you are not blaming the individual. Your aim is to work together to find the best way forward; a way that will allow everybody to enjoy a win.

Related article
: Accepting responsibility

Eliminating blame is one of the most powerful steps you can take towards avoiding conflict. Blame puts people on the defensive. They feel like they are being attacked and nobody wants to feel that way. Blaming somebody else when things go wrong can lead to them lashing out at you or others. Alternatively, if can lead to them withdrawing back into their shell which doesn’t serve anyone either. The same goes for when you blame yourself.

Blame implies that somebody did wrong deliberately. It assumes that they were acting with negative intentions. Life is far better and conflict is rarer when we assume that other people always act with positive intentions the better approach is to encourage everybody to accept responsibility and demonstrate the same yourself.

Accepting responsibility is one of the most powerful things you can do. You are saying that somethings you did contributed to the negative results. This means that if you change that behavior and choose a better option, you are going to get a better outcome next time.  The important thing to note here is that you are focusing on the behaviors/actions which contributed to the unwanted outcome; you are not blaming the individual. Your aim is to work together to find the best way forward; a way that will allow everybody to enjoy a win.

Related article: Accepting responsibility

​You can deal with difficult situations and avoid conflict at the same time

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​3. Choose your words wisely

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  1. Choose your words wisely

​It is very easy to blame others or assign responsibility to them when you are feeling bad e.g. you say that they made you angry. They didn’t make you angry. They behaved whatever way they behaved and you chose your response. You may not realise you chose it as it may have been a subconscious decision but the choice of response was definitely yours.

To realise this, you only have to notice how 2 different people can respond differently to the same situation. If two people react differently to the same situation then it can’t be the situation which determines the response. It must be the individual who chooses their own response.  So nobody else made you angry, jealous, disappointed etc. You chose that response yourself.

Remember that blame causes others to go on the defensive so, even a subtle switch from blame to responsibility can have a massive role in avoiding conflict. For example, rather than say ‘You made me angry’ you could say ‘I feel angry when you do…’ It may not seem like a lot but you are no longer blaming the other person; you are taking ownership of your own feelings.

Related article: 5 Tips to harness the power of words

It is very easy to blame others or assign responsibility to them when you are feeling bad e.g. you say that they made you angry. They didn’t make you angry. They behaved whatever way they behaved and you chose your response. You may not realize you chose it as it may have been a subconscious decision but the choice of response was definitely yours.

To realize this, you only have to notice how 2 different people can respond differently to the same situation. If two people react differently to the same situation then it can’t be the situation which determines the response. It must be the individual who chooses their own response.  So nobody else made you angry, jealous, disappointed etc. You chose that response yourself.

Remember that blame causes others to go on the defensive so, even a subtle switch from blame to responsibility can have a massive role in avoiding conflict. For example, rather than say ‘You made me angry’ you could say ‘I feel angry when you do…’ It may not seem like a lot but you are no longer blaming the other person; you are taking ownership of your own feelings.

Related article: 5 Tips to harness the power of words

You can improve your communication and relationship skills with my FREE Checklist – Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing with Difficult People.

Get Your FREE Copy!

​4. Have predetermined calming measures

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  1. Have predetermined calming measures

​I have always done some weight training throughout my life. When you are lifting weights lighter than you can manage, you can lift safely on your own; though safety measures should always be taken. As the weights increase, it is best to have somebody ‘spot’ you. This means that they are there in case you are struggling with the weight so that they can intervene to help you avoid injury.  Effectively, you are planning your way out before you begin.

Avoiding conflict can be approached in much the same way i.e. have a plan for calming things down before the conversation begins. This is especially important if you think there is a reasonable chance that the situation might escalate into an argument or; where you are interacting with the other person regularly and you know how they behave during a difficult conversation.

Some strategies you could use include:

I have always done some weight training throughout my life. When you are lifting weights lighter than you can manage, you can lift safely on your own; thought safety measures should always be taken. As the weights increase, it is best to have somebody ‘spot’ you. This means that they are there in case you are struggling with the weight so that they can intervene to help you avoid injury.  Effectively, you are planning your way out before you begin.

Avoiding conflict can be approached in much the same way i.e. have a plan for calming things down before the conversation begins. This is especially important if you think there is a reasonable chance that the situation might escalate into an argument or; where you are interacting with the other person regularly and you know how they behave during a difficult conversation.

Some strategies you could use include:

Use a specific technique e.g. the constructive feedback model

  • ​Agree that both sides will get to have their say and then you will both take 24 hours to think about how you would like to respond i.e. a cool off period

Agree that both sides will get to have their say and then you will both take 24 hours to think about how you would like to respond i.e. a cool off period

  • Set a time limit for the discussion

​Having a strategy for calming things down helps with avoiding conflict and helps both parties to focus on resolving the issue before it escalates into a conflict.

If you are having to deal with difficult people and you want to start avoiding conflict, the Deal with Difficult People Handbook will help you get on the right track.

Having a strategy for calming things down helps with avoiding conflict and helps both parties to focus on resolving the issue before it escalates into a conflict.
If you are having to deal with difficult people and you want to start avoiding conflict, the Deal with Difficult People Handbook will help you get on the right track.

​Conclusion

​Avoiding conflict is one of the most important things that  ​you can do if  ​you want to live a peaceful, loving and happy life. That doesn’t mean  ​you should avoid dealing with issues which need to be dealt with. In fact, if you don’t deal with those important issues, you will experience conflict anyway because other people won’t change their behavior or attitude unless you tell them that you won’t tolerate it anymore. However, most difficult situations can be dealt with successfully while still avoiding conflict. If you take the time to implement the four strategies, above, your attempts at avoiding conflict will become much easier and you will still be able to deal with any issues which may arise.

 

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The 3 critical steps to deal with difficult people…

I have many concerns at this critical time in my motherland Kenya. Most of them are about one thing – Relationship difficulties.

And, it always seems to be a case of the other person being difficult to deal with.

It can be difficult to deal with difficult people but it is worthwhile learning to do so.

When you learn how to deal with difficult people, you experience a broad range of benefits:

  • You experience less conflict
  • You experience less stress
  • You save time and energy
  • You build better relationships
  • You achieve more by working better together

And much more.

There are 3 main things to consider when dealing with difficult people:

  1. You need to identify the type of difficult behavior you are being exposed to and; there are more than a few types.
  2. You need to identify the appropriate action to take to effectively deal with that behavior.
  3. You need to implement that action with confidence

The Deal with Difficult People Handbook will teach you how to do all 3.

You can reduce the stress and conflict in your life while improving your results through collaboration and cooperation.

You just need to deal with difficult people and difficult behavior.

PEACE IS ALL THAT WE WANT

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