I am a professional conflict avoider. I can’t actually ever remember having an argument with anyone that wasn’t my parents or boyfriend because I always just bite my tongue and try to put the disagreement out of my head. However, not everyone goes around wearing their I hate conflict hat on like I do.
Last year there were a few times when I had to deal with some difficult people and while at the time it felt awkward and horrible, I’ve learnt a few things from it that I want to share.
Weigh Up Your Options
As someone who doesn’t like conflict, my usual response is to stay quiet, remain polite and not say anything when I’m finding someone difficult to deal with. However, I know that this isn’t always the best reaction and that sometimes you have to be upfront with people when they’re causing you a problem.
You have to decide whether confronting someone is going to have negative repercussions for you or the other person and whether you feel like telling them straight will actually help the situation or not. There’s no need to confront someone if the only thing you’re getting out of it is feeling better by letting off steam.
This is something I find really difficult. Whilst I’m always honest when asked my opinion, I find it very hard to say “You hurt my feelings” or “You made me feel X way when you said X.” I don’t like people knowing that they’ve upset me but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and be brave enough to tell people how they’ve really made you feel.
Take Advice With A Pinch of Salt
On one occasion last year, someone who I previously had a lot of time for, told me that the way I handled a situation was wrong and then proceeded to lecture me on how I should have dealt with it better. Their suggestion was to have gone in all guns blazing, which if you know me at all, you will know that this is never how I deal with things.
I listened politely through the lecture, smiled in the right place, and then seethed once I’d left. This person has an extremely different attitude to life than I do. Everyone is individual and whilst I welcome advice usually, I’ve learnt that sometimes people are just coming from different places. For me, a chilled, more mindful approach works just fine.
However you’ve dealt with a situation involving someone who has made things difficult for you, it’s really important not to regret how it went. You can’t change how you handled a situation and even if you’ve been in the wrong, sometimes sorry just won’t cut it. There’s not much you can do about this other than moving on and trying not to feel full of regret. Even if you’ve come to blows with another person, all you can do is try not to let the same happen again next time.
Rightly or wrongly, sometimes I find the best way to deal with difficult people is to simply distance yourself. Sometimes this is really easy when the person doesn’t mean anything to you or it’s someone that it’s easy to avoid. Other times, it’s really difficult. Either you’re living with that person or you come into contact with them regularly. It’s totally okay to ignore messages if you think your reaction will be an outburst or end badly. It’s also alright to say “I’m not up for having this conversation right now.”