We have the power to choose what we do when situations are difficult and connections fray. Knowing that we always have choices gives us the power to take control. Throughout our lives, we’ll mix and mingle with plenty of people- the outraged and the obstinate, the belligerent and the bothersome, the annoying and the agitated, the rude and the ruthless, and other people who press our buttons.
Here are 3 choices that have worked well for my coaching clients and those in my workshops in regards to handling difficult situations with people.
1. Accept it.
Sometimes we must surrender to what is, because nothing that we can do will ever be able to change it. With an attitude of making a situation work as best as you can and releasing any related negativity, you’re better able to manage it. Sometimes accepting things as they are without our ability to change them is hard to swallow; yet continually butting heads against walls of frustration hurts too!
Remember what is possible to change and what is not:
– You cannot change a person’s perspective. You cannot change how anyone else sees a situation even after you’ve clearly outlined your reasons. Your perspectives and rationalizations may seem obvious to you, especially after all the hard evidence you’ve presented to make your case. You may find yourself at your wit’s end, wondering why they don’t get it. It’s frustrating when you want others to see it your way and they don’t. It’s not within your power to change how someone else sees a situation, even with the most brilliant and convincing case.
– You cannot change a person’s behavior. You can request a change of behavior, but you cannot make a person act differently. Their choices may frustrate your needs, but it’s the best they can do with their interests at stake and level of problem solving skills. They have their reasons and beliefs; their assumptions and attitudes simply fuel their action. People will usually only change when they believe a new behavior is in their own best interest.
-You cannot change another person’s feelings. It does no good to tell others how they should feel. You may not see the reasons for them to feel a certain way, but their feelings are their truth. If they feel it, it’s real to them.
2. Change your behavior
You can change your way of thinking about people and how you respond to them. Taking responsibility for your responses dramatically influences your interpersonal dynamics. You claim more personal power when you give up trying to change things outside of your control. If you’re not happy with how people treat you or the outcomes that result, you can change what you do and say to transform the energy surrounding negative dynamics. Remember to also communicate empowering messages to yourself about your capabilities and personal worth.
3. Get out.
Some situations or relationships are so destructive and energy-draining that leaving becomes the best option for your head, heart and stress level. Be clear whether the time is right for you to go. Leaving may be your best choice, but determine whether you’d be leaving behind something you might regret later. For instance, if you find your job unbearable, getting out might be your preferred choice but it may not be in your financial best interests to resign quite yet. If you’re physically in danger the choice is clear- your safety is a number one priority.