Dealing with Difficult People

One common problem that my coaching clients tell me is that they have difficulty dealing with certain people, no matter how much ever they try. Some seek life coaching to find a way to resolve issues in their relationship or improve their relationships in general, be it personal relationships with spouses or professional relationships at work.

So here is a small tip that can has worked for me and what I think can go a long way when it comes to improving relationships 
Before I tell you what it is, I want to introduce you to a term or rather refresh your memory if you have already aware of it. It’s called the Pygmalion Effect. It’s a phenomenon whereby other’s expectations of a target person affect the target persons performance. That is, if you expect someone to be good, that person will be good to you and vice versa.

 It’s a simple concept but difficult to put into practice. Most of the times what happens is you will have past memory structures, experiences that will influence your interactions with other people. 
Now if you have had a bitter/ not so good experience with someone you will form judgments about this person subconsciously and come up with some character traits in your mind like he/she is rude, biased, unfriendly, selfish, weird, difficult, bossy, aggressive and so on. 

Every other interaction you have with them will be only to validate your findings. That is, if you think someone is rude, you will not try to have a friendly conversation with them because you think that they are rude anyway. This judgment will show up in your communications with them and they would think the same about you and behave the same way you thought they would; you will validate your assumptions about them and they will validate their assumptions about you and the loop will continue.

Which is why it is important to think that people are inherently good. There is something good about everyone and you got to start seeing that good with a bigger lens to make Pygmalion effect work in your favour.

With this context I come to my tip for improving your relationships. It is to appreciate people as much as you can, whenever you can. Even for the silliest of things. Tell your wife that she looks beautiful when she passes by you at home, tell your husband he did a great job with putting kids to sleep, appreciate your boss for mentoring you, appreciate your colleague for their hard work or smart work.  Make it a practice to appreciate people in your life every single day, don’t wait for the right time, don’t wait for big events to happen and don’t wait for the big day to come. 

When you appreciate people you start noticing the good in them, more good and more good. Until one fine day, you start to think that maybe they are not rude anymore. The friendliness in your interactions with them will become more obvious, and they will start reciprocating it and the loop will continue. That’s Pygmalion effect working in your favour.

Even if you are in a strong relationship I think appreciating your partner on a regular basis has to become the way of life. When you fight and have disagreements, this will come in handy to look at the bigger picture and think why you are in this relationship in the first place. 

Categories: Coaching