How you can own your reactions when encountering difficult people
Editors Note: This is part 1 or a 3 part series on maintaining composure and managing encounters with difficult people
Is encountering a difficult person all in the eye of the beholder? Is the person you see as rude, combative, loud, unappreciative, demanding, incompetent, ungrateful necessarily these things or is there a component of your own perception in play?
Priming Your Brain For Difficult People
Sometimes difficult people are defined as such based on the perception of the beholder. Thats not to say that people arent acting rude, loud, combative and so on, but how this is perceived and how you react often has more to do with you than with the other person.
Research demonstrates that our perceptions of people and situations are routinely impacted by many factors, not the least of which are how we are feeling at the time. The nature of our brains is such that we can be primed by our recent and distant past experiences, our health, our individual personality and more. The good or bad encounter you recently had with a loved on or even a stranger can propel you to rush to judgment in the next encounter. This is why in some circumstances you may react badly and in others you may not. It is also the same mechanism that primes us to judge people we encounter based on stereotypes or our past experiences.
You probably understand that your own perceptions play a significant role in your ability to manage people and situations. The good news is that this means you have at least some choice in how you perceive another person.
The Right Frame of Mind Impacts Composure
Perception and context are powerful contributors to our experiences. Depending on your own frame of mind, youre generally able to demonstrate more or less tolerance and flexibility. When youre feeling well, are well rested and have minimal stress, youre more able to tolerate a wider range of behaviors and stressors. An impulsive, loud and frustrating co-worker is less so when youre in a great mood. When you are in a poor mood or are experiencing health problems, you may perceive people as more difficult. You may react poorly to a tone of voice of an employee (or your teenager) or to how quickly (or slowly) someone follows-through on the actions you requested.
You may not be able to stop people from behaving badly, but if you can learn how to reframe your perception, you can gain better control of your own reactions and increase your odds of more effectively managing the situation.