Dealing with difficult people means negotiating a two-way story

When friends, family or coworkers drive you crazy, you're probably making them feel crazy too!
When friends, family or coworkers drive you crazy, you’re probably making them feel crazy too!

 Difficult relationships at work and home… they’re just… so…. difficult. Why are they so hard? Is there any way to make them easier?

There are ten million “whys” in this disfunctional relationship — and none of them really make sense until you wake up to the story you’re telling about them. Because that story holds the key to understanding which why is real, and which why simply justifies your frustration!

For example, your co-worker is doing something that drives you crazy — leaving a door open, excluding you from e-memos, looking down his nose at you, humming in cubicle-land. You’ve tried to make your discomfort clear, but nothing seems to change. You’ve made up your mind, you’ve chosen the story that keeps you closest to your own sanity:

-He’s an inconsiderate jerk.
-She hates you, and she’s doing it on purpose.
-She’s sick, and should get help.
-If your boss really cared, she’d take care of the problem.

The bigger the story, the bigger the problem. Find out which story you’re telling, and you’ll find out the root of your own personal crazy-making.

OK, I’ve figured out what I believe about this %#*%^! Now what!?

1. Study that story. Ask yourself — Is it true? Observe the situation, the relationship, considering that story. You’ll find that there’s some evidence that confirms your story, but more evidence to prove that you’ve interpreted behaviors based on your own assumptions! You may not come closer to understanding the “why,” but you’ll see what fuels your own indignation and craziness.

38fd0142. Put that story down, and look again. What else might be happening in this situation? (Make up seven alternative stories — it’s liberating!) Pretty soon, the why doesn’t matter so much as the how to move forward.

3. Then, with your head a little clearer, ask yourself, “What do I want from this relationship?” Then consider how to get there. Is this someone you have to work with? Consider mediation if it’s really bad, or make a peace offering, or create respectful distance. Is this a close relationship you want to save, for a really good reason? Meet somewhere neutral for coffee, and sit for awhile. Ask a lot of questions. Listen. Ask to be listened to, if you have to.

4. Then make a plan. Try it. If it doesn’t work, check your story again. (Is it helping or getting in the way? Is it a new story or have you defaulted to the old one?) If you get to the point when it’s not worth making a plan and trying to make things better, that’s important information. Whether the relationship gets better, or you find a way to let go with respect and clarity, you win either way. (So does the other person, by the way.)

Relationships – hard to live with, but you can’t live without ’em! Tell me a story about how you fixed — or ended a crazy-making work or personal relationship! Did you have to change your story — or did you decide you were right after all?

Need help? Consider Storyweaving breakthrough coaching — 3-5 sessions to problem solve, explore, soothe and experiment with a compassionate mentor. Email now for your free 30 minute session to find out how we can work together!


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