I regularly receive emails on people facing a difficult and confrontational person – perhaps a family member, a neighbour, a colleague, a client, a stranger, a boss and more.
You may have contact with the person frequently, occasionally or just once. They can leave a mark, such as feeling hurt or distressed by their behaviour,
Problematic personas carry unresolved stress and anger, which gets dumped on you. You may find yourself on the receiving of abuse and aggression.
You may be on the receiving end of a pushy, demanding person trying to get their own way.
It is not easy to stay calm, unruffled with a steadfast equanimity.
You may face accusations, rejection, attacks face to face, on the phone or written abuse.
Ten Responses when Facing a Difficult Persona
1. All forms of guidance or support from you require the motivation of such a person to listen or read your guidance. If you do not sense their motivation, your kind words will not reach him or her.
2. Personal attacks have no justification and often baseless. Equanimity matters in challenging situations. You do not have to put pressure on yourself to be kind and compassionate. Let such expressions of the heart arise naturally at some point.
3. Avoid giving advice or even intimating advice. If you are a teacher/carer of any kind, you may want to help. Speak what is true without trying to fix it for the other.
4. Take three mindful breaths before you respond to their reactivity.
5. Keep the voice lower than their voice and choose your words carefully.
6. Wait overnight before replying to an abusive email
7. Invite the person to contact you when their anger has subsided.
8. Keep spoken and written response brief. There is power in a precise, thoughtful, non-judgemental response.
9. Advise the person if you do not wish to respond any longer. I regard three responses as the maximum.
10. Reflect on any such situation as a preparation for the next time.
Such situations test us. Be careful not to draw conclusions about yourself if you also get reactive or the mind gets sticky around what happened.
Wisdom and insights dissolve stuck impressions.