How smart people deal with negativity
How intelligent people deal with difficult people
Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully subconscious of the negative effects they have on those around them, and others seem to get satisfaction from wreaking havoc and pushing other people's buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, arguments, and the worst of all stressful situations.
Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative effect on the brain. Exposure to stress for even a few days impairs the effectiveness of the neurons in the hippocampus - an important part of the brain responsible for logical thinking and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neural dendrites, and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a huge threat to your success - when stress gets out of hand, your brain and performance suffer.
Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. Inevitably, when your nonprofit is looking for a grant that your organization needs to function, you will inevitably experience stress and will likely know how to deal with it. It is the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.
Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University has shown that exposure to stimuli that produce strong negative emotions - the same type of exposure that one has when dealing with difficult people - causes the brains to break down of the test subjects show a massive stress reaction. Whether it's negativity, cruelty, victim syndrome, or just plain insanity, difficult people drive the brain into a state of stress that should be avoided at all costs.
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure is directly related to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research on more than a million people and found that 90 percent of high achievers are able to manage their emotions during times of stress in order to stay calm and in control. One of her greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize difficult people. Top executives have sophisticated coping skills that they use to keep difficult people at bay.
In order to deal effectively with difficult people, you need an approach that allows you to control what you can and eliminate what you can't in all areas. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.
1. You set limits
Complainants and negative people are bad news because they indulge in their problems and not focus on solutions. They want people to join their compassion party so they can feel better. People often feel pressured to listen to complainants for not wanting to be seen as callous or impolite, but there is a fine line between having a benevolent ear and being sucked into their negative spiral of emotions.
The only way to avoid this is by setting boundaries and, if necessary, distancing yourself. Think of it this way: if the complainant smoked, would you sit there all afternoon and inhale the second-hand smoke? You would distance yourself and you should do the same with the complainants. A good way to set boundaries is to ask the complainant how they intend to solve the problem. You will either calm down or steer the conversation in a productive direction.
2. You stand above it
Difficult people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake; their behavior is really contrary to reason. So why are you allowing yourself to emotionally engage with them and get drawn into the mix? The more irrational and unreasonable someone is, the easier it should be for you to break free from their traps. Stop trying to beat them at their own game. Emotionally distance yourself from them and approach your interactions as if they were a science project. You don't have to react to the emotional chaos - just the facts.
3. You stay aware of your emotions
Maintaining emotional distance requires awareness. You can't stop someone from pressing your buttons if you don't know when it's happening. Sometimes you will find yourself in situations where you need to regroup yourself and choose the best way forward. That's fine, and don't be afraid to spend some time doing it.
Think of it this way: if a mentally unstable person walks up to you on the street and tells you he's John F. Kennedy, you probably won't educate him. When you find yourself with a coworker who is harboring similarly derailed thoughts, sometimes it's best to just smile and nod. If you need to get them back on track, it is better to give yourself some time to plan the best course of action.
4. You set limits
This is the area where most people tend to under sell themselves. They feel that because they work or live with someone, they have no way of controlling the chaos. That couldn't be further from the truth. Once you've found your way to rise above a person, you will find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will enable you to think rationally about when and where to endure them and when not to. Even if you work closely with someone on a project team, for example, that does not mean that you have to have the same level of individual interaction with them as with the other team members.
You can set a limit, but you must do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you will inevitably get caught up in difficult conversations all the time. When you set boundaries and decide when and where to hire a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick with it and keep the boundaries up when the person tries to get involved with them, which they will.
5. You do not perish in battle
Smart people know the importance of living to fight another day, especially when the opponent is a poisonous individual. In a conflict, uncontrolled emotions cause you to come on the heels and engage in the kind of fight that can cause you serious harm. By reading your emotions and responding to them, you will be able to choose your fights wisely and only hold your own when the time is right.
6. You do not focus on problems, only on solutions
Where you direct your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you are facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to improve yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal effectiveness that creates positive emotions and reduces stress.
When it comes to toxic people, their fixation on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Stop thinking about how troubling your troubled person is and instead focus on how you are going to deal with them. This will make you more effective in giving you control over them and it will reduce the stress you experience dealing with them.
7. Don't forget
Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn't mean they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what has happened so that one can move on. That doesn't mean giving a wrongdoer another chance. Smart people are unwilling to get bogged down unnecessarily by the mistakes of others, so let go of them quickly and confidently protect themselves from future harm.
8. You suppress negative self-talk
Sometimes they absorb other people's negativity. There is nothing wrong with feeling bad about the way someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either increase the negativity or help you overcome it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-destructive. It puts you in an emotional downward spiral that is difficult to get out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.
9. Get enough sleep
When you sleep, your brain literally recharges itself so you wake up awake and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory decrease when you don't get enough - or the right kind of - of sleep. Sleep deprivation increases stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. A good night's sleep makes you more positive, creative, and proactive with toxic people, and gives you the perspective you need to deal with them effectively.
10. They let you help you
It is tempting, but completely ineffective, to try to do it all by yourself. In order to deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in the way you deal with them. That means tapping into your support system to gain the perspective of a challenging person. Everyone has someone at and / or outside of work who is on their team, who keeps their fingers crossed for them and is ready to help them get the most out of a difficult situation. Identify these people in your life and strive to seek their insight and support when you need them. Something as simple as an explanation of the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you cannot see because they are not that emotionally involved in the situation.
Unite everything ...
Before you can get this system working brilliantly, you need to pass a few tests. Most of the time, you will be testing yourself through delicate interactions with problem people. Fortunately, the plasticity of the brain allows it to shape and change as you practice new behaviors, even if you fail. Using these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to deal with stress more effectively and reduce the chance of side effects.
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