Ask Tater-Tits: I Need Help Dealing With Difficult People

Sydney from Le Port, TX asks:

Dear Tater-Tits,

I know that dealing with difficult people is an unavoidable part of life, but lately I feel like it happens so often I can’t help but let it get under my skin. I feel like people are constantly demeaning me in both my work and personal life, and oftentimes I find myself handling it poorly either by ignoring the situation or getting overly confrontational. It is seriously stressing me out that some people don’t know how to just be respectful when discussing different viewpoints.

How do I deal with these difficult people without rolling over or losing my mind?

-Sydney

We’re going to let Lisa Laurenzo handle this one.

Dear Not Such A Pushover,

I definitely have this topic filed under “Shit I Wish I Would Have Known.”

We have all have had-run ins with people we just simply don’t get along with but for whatever reason have to maintain a relationship with. Whether it’s a friend of a friend, a co-worker or even a family member, personality differences can be trying. Everyone at some point in their lives will encounter a person who just sees something wrong with everything you do and say. They seem to be constantly chastising you, making snide comments or even trying to prove you wrong on subjects they clearly know little about.

The question is, when do you call them out on it?

The reality is that the thickness of the line between being the bigger person and allowing someone to bully you depends on the person you’re dealing with.

Susan might be an open minded, self-aware person who could very well take note of your grace during uncomfortable and rude situations she has put you in and quietly change her behavior towards you on her own. Jim might be a dickwad who takes your silence as submission and continue to his behavior since there aren’t consequences for it.

I have met both of those types of people with Susan being the rarest. My experienced advice is to start off by being the bigger person. However, you cannot continue to dismiss that type of disrespect for long. If you’re dealing with a Jim, it will only get worse and more frequent. If it turns out you’re dealing with someone who couldn’t care less about how their comments affect you or others who have to witness the tension, the best you can do is have a respectful conversation.

If that behavior doesn’t change, don’t sink to their level; limit contact with them. Despite popular belief, you don’t have be Facebook friends with everyone – even family members. You should not run around telling everyone who will listen how mean they are to you. If needed, tell the appropriate persons (Human Resources for work issues, your spouse for family issues, etc). Even though many people will start to take closer notice of how your bully treats you, it is in away hitting below the belt and will likely contribute to the hostility.

Bottom line is that you can’t control how other people will treat you or behave. You can only control your response. I wish I would’ve known this five years ago.

-Lisa Laurenzo

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