Effective Communication Tips: Dealing With Challenging People

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effective communication tipsWe encounter all sorts of people in our lives. Some are friendly and open, while others are rude and want nothing to do us. While we can get by without communicating with some of these people when they are just passers-by, we don’t have that option when they are our friends, co-workers, or even our spouse. In order to break through and have a conversation with them, you need to know some effective communication tips.

By knowing a handful of effective communication tips, you can more easily talk with these people and not get sucked into their world of negativity and gloom. Below are my effective communication tips for dealing with the most common conversation offenders.

Effective Communication Tips – Passive Aggressive People

Passive aggressive people are the ones who hide insults in humor or exaggerate their apologies to you. A classic example is if you ask someone to do something for you and they reply that they will, but their tone of voice says otherwise. This person is being passive aggressive. They are unable to talk to you about the issue at hand, so they do so by masking it in other ways.

The way to deal with passive aggressive people is to listen to your gut. As in the example above, you can tell that the person isn’t interested in doing what you asked them to do. If it is a friend or a family member that is this way, you can also confront them. Be nice but firm with them. Tell them how their behavior affects you and makes you feel.

When it comes to a passive aggressive co-worker or boss, you could reach out to another supervisor or just realize the behavioral issue and learn to deal with it. That is what I had to do in my previous job. My one co-worker was a bear to work with. At first, I let it get to me. But after awhile, I learned to live with it. I knew the issue was with her and not me. When she became mean to me, I just let it roll off my back because it wasn’t worth my time or energy to fight it.

There are times though when the behavior becomes too much. In these cases, you might have to look for another job or question the friendship/relationship.

Effective Communication Tips – Narcissistic People

We think of the classic example of a narcissist as a person that can’t stop looking at themselves in a mirror. But this behavior goes way beyond that. Narcissistic people also are ones that lack empathy. What this means is that no matter how many times you talk to these people to try to get them to understand where you stand or how they hurt you, it won’t matter one bit. It basically goes in one ear and out the other.

So how do you communicate with these people? You have to leave your ego at home and inflate theirs. You have to spin things in a way to show them how it will benefit them. If you want them to clean the house, tell them how the exercise will help them stay in shape or that a clean house is a direct reflection of its owner.

You may have to think outside the box a little bit on this but doing so will allow you to effectively communicate with narcissists.

Effective Communication Tips – Gossipers

These people tend to take others misfortunes and use it as a crutch to make themselves feel better. In many cases, gossipers have a lack of self-esteem and they inflate theirs by talking about others bad breaks.

To handle a gossiper is to simply raise their self-esteem. When they come to you to gossip about so-and-so, don’t acknowledge the gossip, but change the subject to make them feel great about themselves. Tell them how great that outfit looks or praise them for some other recent accomplishment.

Changing the subject and getting a gossiper to talk about something else is very easy to do. You just have to find a way to quickly change the subject to something not related to the gossip.

Effective Communication Tips – Angry People

You know these types of people. They think the world is out to get them so they always react in an angry, harsh way. They will attack you (either verbally or non-verbally), criticize you, humiliate you, etc. They are just not a fun person to be around.

So how do you communicate with an angry person? You have to remain calm. If you don’t stay calm, you are going to get sucked into their vortex of negativity. You can’t take anything they say personally. Once you are able to do this, then you need to acknowledge them and provide a solution. Repeat to them their concern and then provide a solution.

When I was at the job I mentioned before with the passive-aggressive person, I also had a co-worker that was an angry person as well. Screaming was her choice of communication. It got so bad that another co-worker and I knew that any day now, she was going to hit us. It was a bad situation. To deal with her, I just let her anger slide off my back. It really wasn’t anything about me, it was all about her and her issues.

Once I stopped letting it bother me, I was then able to talk to her in a calm manner and propose solutions. This calmed her down too and allowed for peaceful co-existence every so often.

What If You Are One Of These People?

What if you are reading this and realize that you are one of these offenders? What should you do? Your first step has to be acknowledgement. You have to accept that this is who you have been. From there, you need to understand that you can change. You don’t have to be an angry person or a gossiper.

In order to do this, you need to look deep inside yourself and realize why you are the way you are. When I was younger, I got myself into a good amount of credit card debt. I didn’t know why, I just thought I had a spending problem. No matter what I did to change my behavior, I continued to spend.

It wasn’t until I took a look within myself that I realized that I was depressed. I bought things to make me feel better about myself. Once I recognized this, I worked on finding other ways to get rid of my depression and my overspending ways stopped. You need to find the root of why you are the way you are and make a change.

Once you do this, then you can start to work on changing your outlook on life. Learn how to think positively so that you can see the good in everything in life – even the bad times. In fact, learning to stay positive is what really helped me survive the job with the horrible co-workers. It’s amazing how changing your outlook can change your life.

Final Thoughts

By learning effective communication tips for different types of people, you can get through your day less stressed and be happier. No one should go through life miserable. By learning how to deal with difficult people, you can be a happier person and enjoy the great life that you have.

2 thoughts on “Effective Communication Tips: Dealing With Challenging People”

  1. Thanks for the great advice in this article, Don. I love the part near the end to look inside ourselves to understand why we are the way we are. I think that’s very important for us all to be a little more self-aware. In turn, it will help us understand others better.
    Great tips for staying positive! As you say, “It’s amazing how changing your outlook can change your life.” I couldn’t agree more!

    1. I think too many times we always look outward and want to find an external solution to things. If we just took the time to look inward and better understood ourselves, we might find the solution much easier.

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