Learning how to deal with difficult people and situations is a learning process. You will need allies. These are your friends or support networks who will provide strength when you're faced with a difficult situation. Don't let yourself be outnumbered or outflanked by an aggressor/opponent who wants to do harm to you. Below are guidelines and strategies to use when dealing with a difficult person or situation.
The BIG Question: Do you want to be RIGHT or do you want to be EFFECTIVE?
Don't Overfocus. Try to see the big picture of what's happening. Everyone invests a lot of energy in focusing on someone who represents danger and numerous other negative feelings. Who do you focus on and who focuses on you as being a threat? What's really going on? Successful strategies applied in social battles will reduce the need for you to overfocus on your enemy.
Be seen as warm, friendly, lovable and socially appropriate. Your chief weapons and assets are your social, emotional and intellectual skills. Take what you learned positively from your family and your early playground and perfect it throughout your lifetime. Remember, every minute you are capable of improving your skills and becoming stronger.
You do not have to talk or respond to an attacker. Silence can be one of your most deadly weapons. A head nod and a pursing of lips sends very powerful nonverbal signals. The nonverbal world is vast and has existed for much longer than the verbal world. Learn to observe and understand the various meanings enveloped in the nonverbal world. Utilize them.
Observe. Don't engage! Don't provoke or respond with immediate anger or retaliation. Create a ritual at home to work your anger and feelings. Become indifferent and immune to the verbal viruses of your enemies. They cannot infect you unless you let them. Sometimes in the heat of battle it is easy to forget how powerful you are and that you don't have to express that power. It isn't important whether or not your opponent realizes your power. The important goal is that your power creates the desired effect.
Do not bite or take the bait when your enemy seduces you into a guaranteed struggle. Remember that some of your best friends and lovers can become your most bitter rivals and enemies. Expect the unexpected. Learn how to predict your enemy's possible moves. Understand that your enemy will always invent things about you to confirm that you are a horrible person. Don't project your own good intentions and desires. Your enemy is a vicious and competitive warrior who has had a lifetime of verbal sadism and denial experience.
Be Strategic. Acknowledge and recognize who is your enemy so that you know what strategies to use. You are in a war and you will win through positive social skills. Remember, it is very easy for your opponent to find your vulnerable trigger that can unleash your inner monster/beast/animal. Learn how to woo neutral potential allies. Don't jump to immediate, knee jerk retaliatory responses. Listen, observe, ask questions, strategize and win while appearing warm and loving.
Don't play the opponent's game. Compete through great, magnanimous displays of warmth, love and social grace. Competition is everywhere. Mastery and the "upper hand" are unconscious goals of every human being. Paraphrase and ask questions to defuse provocative accusations and gain control.
Win because you are a winner. Stay focused, even if provoked. Don't let them derail you! Learn how to divide and conquer. Whether you like it or not, power is a reality. Anticipate, prepare, expect and prepare, prepare and prepare some more. Rehearse and listen to your primitive evolutionary instincts. They will work for you once you connect them to your conscious mind and will.
Experiential learning is just as powerful and sometimes more powerful than what you can learn from other sources. It is up to you to make sense and extrapolate wisdom from your experiences. In a lifetime of battles, struggles, peacetime and warfare, there are many opportunities to learn through experience. You can also strengthen your experiential learning with books, courses and teachers that have encountered similar situations and are capable of passing on their knowledge to you.
Review and write down examples of situations where you saw other people, including yourself, engaging in power struggles. These can happen on many fronts, social and political. Learn from them and think how you could have been more effective.
Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D LMFT