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365 Ways to Start Over: Day #41 – Turn Difficult People Into Easy Allies

Who at some point in their life has not been affected by the bad behavior of the people around them? It might be someone you love choosing to go down the wrong road. It might be someone you work with treating you unfairly. It might be one of your friends irritating you with a biased perspective.

Basically when another person upsets you it is because something they are doing is threatening you. A loved one who is making a bad choice threatens your hopes and dreams for him or her. A colleague that challenges your work threatens your ability to succeed or other’s perception of your success. A friend who disagrees with you threatens your need to build consensus among your shared friends.

We all know the theoretical fixes to this situation. “Don’t let it bother you.” “Let it go.” “It isn’t important.” Intellectually we accept that this is what we need to do but often it is difficult to execute. There are a few concrete strategies that can actually achieve the goal of letting go but also work with the situation for greater results.

How to Turn Difficult People into Easy Allies

1. Take nothing personally. Anyone who has a problem with you has a problem with his or herself that is brought out by something you are doing. Don’t internalize their reaction to you because it could put you in a defensive posture whereby you react instead of responding thoughtfully for a better outcome.

2. Identify what you fear in this situation. What is it in you that you feel you are in threat of losing in this situation? Behavior is secondary to feeling. Bad behavior stems from feeling fear of something. On a basic level people generally fear three things – pain, death and abandonment. Abandonment is the most common fear.

3. Identify what they fear. What is threatening the person you have difficulty with?

4. Envision what they would be like without that fear. Envision that person in a chair with a shower curtain that represents their bad behavior between you and them. Now whisk that shower curtain aside. What do you see? What good lies beneath the surface of their fear and bad behavior?

5. Define how you will ease their fear by a change in your behavior. Instead of continuing to tell a loved one who fears not being accepted and disappoints you that you are angry at what they are doing might you ask them, “How could things be different to make you feel more accepted?” Instead of squaring off at a meeting with a colleague or plotting passive aggressive tactics offline, might you give this person who fears lack of control some control back by offering more than one choice – both of which you can live with?

Being curious and compassionate to the fears of others and ourselves will turn difficult people into allies. Start now!

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Mary Lee Gannon is the president of StartingOverNow.com and Gannon Group – a full service coaching and consulting firm that creates productivity solutions for people and organizations who are “stuck” in transition. Individual clients are addressing: Life transition, Divorce, Life Purpose, Five & Ten Year Plans, Career Change, Relationship Shift, Loss, Empty Nest, and Work Life Balance. Corporate client services include: Strategic Planning, Public Relations – Brand Positioning, Cultural Accountability, Meeting Facilitation, Vision Creation, Strategy Execution, Stress and Time Management, and Negotiations. Mary Lee’s personal turnaround came as a stay-at-home mother, with four children under seven-years-old, who endured a divorce that took she and the children from the country club life to public assistance from where within a short time she worked to the level of CEO. Her book “Starting Over – 25 Rules for When You’ve Bottomed Out” is available in bookstores or at Amazon. Get her FREE ebook – “Grow Productivity – A Leader’s Toolbox” on her web site at www.StartingOverNow.com.