Come across a grumpy dwarf of sorts recently? I did – and let me tell you, it was not fun. Difficult (or even downright mean) people sometimes cause us to buy into what they’re saying – to believe them when they say that we’re no good, or incompetent, or whatever not-so-nice things they might be saying (or inferring). I got through the situation I was having with a very difficult person by reminding myself of the five things below. The next time you encounter a grumpy dwarf, remember these!

1) Keep it neutral. If someone is provoking you or starting a dialogue that you know is just going to lead to an argument – stay on course. What are the topics that need to be addressed? Stick to those, and avoid entertaining this person’s wish to go down a negative path. Very often, when a difficult person lashes out at you, they are trying to trigger a response, to push your buttons. Don’t let them. Instead, send a powerful message by ignoring their antics and sticking to business.

2) Don’t take it personally. This is MUCH easier said than done. But you have to remember: it’s almost certain this person is saying hurtful things because of who they are – and NOT because of who you are. They have power over their words, but they don’t have power over how those words affect you. That’s in your control – remember that!

3) Wait before responding. If you’re experiencing a difficult person via email – it’s always good to give it awhile before you respond, especially if you’re sensing your frustration meter going through the roof. Make sure your emotions have subsided so that you can make sound decisions in how to respond and move forward. If you respond while you’re feeling upset, you will undoubtedly just add fuel to the fire.

4) Never fight difficulty with more difficulty. Trust me on this one – it never works. If you try to “send a message” to a difficult person by giving them a taste of their own medicine, things will only escalate and you might even end up in a completely unworkable situation. The only way difficult people can be dealt with is with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness.

5) Look at the situation objectively. Again, this is not always the easiest thing to do. But if you can step back from the situation and try to look at things as an observer, you might gain some perspective – even see the humor in it all. Try setting all your feelings and emotions aside, and from an objective standpoint, figure out what makes the most sense to do next.

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