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How Smart People Handle Difficult People
Whether it's negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

When dealing with difficult people, the ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep difficult people at bay.

You need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. Here are some tips:

Set limits. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

Rise above. Distance yourself emotionally from difficult people and approach your interactions logically. You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.

Stay aware of your emotions. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll need to regroup to buy yourself some time to find the best way to respond.

Establish boundaries. Try to think rationally about when and where you have to interact with a challenging person, and when you don’t. Establish boundaries, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively, stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place.

Don’t die in the fight. Smart people know how important it is to live to fight another day. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

Don’t focus on problems—only solutions. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with a difficult person in your life.

Don’t forget. Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Smart people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

Squash negative self-talk. Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of, so avoid negative self-talk at all costs.

Get some sleep. A good night’s sleep makes you more alert, clear-headed, positive, creative, and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.

Use your support system. Sometimes, just explaining the situation to a trusted friend or colleague can lead to a new perspective. Often times, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.

Adapted from an article on LinkedIn by Dr. Travis Bradberry, award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

This material is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only.  Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to its accuracy.  This material is not intended to be construed as legal, tax or investment advice.  You are encouraged to consult your legal, tax or investment professional for specific advice.

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