Stressful people can be hard to avoid. They’re everywhere! When you have a conversation with them, it’s like you’re talking to a brick wall. It’s easy to feel drained when interacting with these types of people. When talking doesn’t work, use these five tips to manage difficult and stressful people:
Dealing with a stressful and difficult person can be hard. When you encounter a person who is like this, stay calm. It’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts and get caught up in thoughts like, “Ugh! Why me?” Monitor your breathing and take slow, deep breaths, writes Barbara Markway Ph.D.
Sometimes, all a person wants is to be heard. Although the other person may seem “unreasonable” it may be possible that they just want to be acknowledged. Markway advises, “While you’re listening, really focus on what the other person is saying, not what you want to say next.”
Ask yourself “What do they really need?”
Different people have different needs and emotions. Ask yourself what do they really need? Do they want to simply vent or are they looking for advice? Markway notes, “What is this person really trying to gain? What is this person trying to avoid?” Try to figure out what they need from you right now as a friend or coworker, and work the situation from there.
Don’t respond angrily.
Do not fight fire with fire. Understand that the anger might not be your fault and they may just be frustrated from their day. Sounding angry is not the only way to escalate a conversation. Beware of nonverbal communication as well. Markway suggests, “Use a low, calm, even monotone voice. Don’t try to talk over the person. Wait until the person takes a breath and then speak.”
Don’t say “I understand.”
Markway notes that saying the words “I understand” can usually make the situation worse. When you do not know what they are going through, yet say, “I understand,” it may make the person even more frustrated. Instead, Markway recommends saying, “Tell me more so I can understand better.”
Release your emotions.
After you are done talking to the stressful and stressed-out person, try to find a way to release those negative and angry emotions. When you encounter a difficult person, try to release your emotions in a healthy way. Markway suggests going for a run or taking your dog out for a walk.