In one of the seminars I facilitate, people often ask how to deal with difficult people. In response to that, I like to talk about empathy. If we can put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and show genuine care and concern, it can help diffuse a situation where someone is being “difficult”.
I often think of this Amanda Marshall song, Everybody’s Got a Story, and how we truthfully don’t know everyone’s story (even though we think we may). When we’re talking to someone who is being “difficult”, it helps if we are mindful that everybody’s got a story that would break your heart. If we knew what that person went through in their life, we would likely find some part of it which broke their spirit...and would break our heart.
We don’t know everyone’s story and we likely never will. That person who looks “successful” may be going through a very painful time. The doctor could have called with bad news. Maybe a friend or family member is sick or in some sort of trouble. Maybe the person was abused or bullied as a child. Maybe they are in an unhealthy relationship right now. We may never know their pain just as others may never know ours.
So the next time you are dealing with someone who you would describe as “difficult”, try this. Try giving them empathy. Try giving them what you hope others give you when you’re having a bad day. Remember, it’s not your job to teach them to be nice. It’s your job to learn from them how to rise higher.
Check out my favourite lyrics from this song:
Of the red-headed girl next door (mm)
Or the taxi driver who just dropped you off or the
Or the classmate that you ignore
Don't assume everything on the surface is what you see
'Cause that classmate just lost her mother
And that taxi-driver's got a Ph.D
I'm so tired of the fear that
Weighs us down with wrong assumptions
Of broken hearts and natural function...
Deeper than the image that you see