As humans, we thrive on interactions with each other. We are meant to be social species and not cooped up somewhere devoid of it. We carry these interactions everywhere and in all walks of life—at work, at home, our commute even—wherever you are, interactions are unavoidable irrespective of how soundproof your headphones are.
Some interactions are casual, some meaningful, some bring a smile on our faces and some send us spiraling and make us want to pull our hair or just scream. We all know of such situations daily.
So how do we evade them? How do we create this bubble of bliss where these ‘difficult’ people don’t bother us?
Unfortunately, as we all know, it is quite impossible to avoid them—although, what we can do, is learn how to deal with them better and control our reactions instead of their actions.
How do you perceive their actions?
Someone you think is negative might be unaware of their own negativity. Like you, they too may be preoccupied with thoughts that may be getting the better of them.
This does not excuse someone’s actions but rather lets you widen your emotional intelligence and be empathetic towards them. Changing your perspective from focusing on what is being said to you, to instead on what might be forcing them to act out really helps you separate the person from the situation.
Now, when you look at the situation, you would think of ways to diffuse the situation by either telling them how their actions affect you or simply acknowledging without actually letting it bog you down.
How do you react?
The first step in dealing better with such situations is to look inwards and understand what sets us off, what are our triggers that are certain to create a difficult situation. What is difficult for me, may not be for you—for example, if you are a perfectionist then someone’s laid back attitude towards an assigned task can be reason enough to push your buttons while someone else remains unaffected by it as long as the task is done.
Understanding this helps you acknowledge your limitations so that you are aware of your emotional responses to such situations.
Undeniably, it is quite impossible to calm yourself solely with perception and it is easier said than done to be completely aware of the reasons that bog you down. At such times, really listen to what they say, try to understand instead of reacting on an impulse. Do they really have a point? Or are you the one being difficult? After some self-reflection, if you still think you are in the clear—getting defensive is still not the answer.
As exhausting as it sounds to always be level-headed, you must be less reactive—solely because your peace of mind is much more important than participating in banter.
Treat the other person with respect, and reason with them, do it face to face rather than on a series of emails or text messages swinging back and forth, which only amplifies the situation further because it is often mechanical. Go up to them and have a conversation—all the while remembering that you cannot control them, you are only voicing your opinion and that is the only agenda.
Show compassion towards them because you can only imagine the negativity that might be brewing in their mind which compels them to act out.
Why should you let it go?
Giving the other person a piece of your mind and falling into a pitfall of the battle of words is easier by leaps and bounds than to simply letting it go, but, it is essential.
You must pick your battles and realize which difficult situation is worth fighting for and which is not. There are times where you must stand up for yourself and be assertive about your opinions and actions—in such situations, collect your thoughts, and by all means arm yourself with the right logic and reasoning to support your cause.
But most arguments that we’ve had, we know we could’ve avoided had we not been defensive, taken things personally when it wasn’t required, and simply put ourselves in the spotlight.
Engaging in an argument only causes you to stress, increases your blood pressure, some triggers may even make you anxious and causes a lot of damage to your mental health—it is just not worth participating in. Know when to let things go and when it is not worth your time, energy, and mental space.
Don’t do this to yourself!
While dealing with a difficult situation, most people rely on their assumptions and thoughts over facts. Don’t string stories with assumptions that you have made instead of looking at the situation as it is. Circumstances, most of the time, are hardly as bad as they seem—their negativity is amplified by our own thoughts.
If at all someone has negative things to say about you—understand that it is their opinion and your identity is not their definition. Do not berate yourself over a statement made in an unfortunate argument, people tend to say things they do not mean and often regret it—you can’t control their words but surely can filter them out of your head for yourself.
And most importantly, don’t dwell on a negative situation and carry it with you the entire day. It was probably just a minute’s bitter interaction, are you willing to ruin the 1440 minutes of your day over it? Sounds silly, doesn’t it?
What should you do?
Every single day, remember all the things you have to be grateful for, it is scientifically proven to rapidly improve your quality of life and makes you deal better with such situations. Gratitude has a lot of power, and it can only be experienced if you imbibe it in your demeanor.
Sleep it off! Honestly, just sleep it off. It is scientifically proven that slumping into your bed when you feel overwhelmed actually reduces your stress levels. When you wake up, you will obviously not be a new person but you will be much more emotionally equipped to deal with a difficult situation.
If you have successfully evaded a whole lot of drama, by simply rising above a situation and show maturity, then pat yourself on the back, never forget to acknowledge your own strengths. Kudos, you deserve it!
We must always remember that people have only so much control over our emotions as much as we allow them to have. The choice between peace of mind and troubling thoughts is always with you. Choose peace of mind and always choose happiness.