November 26, 2014

Dealing With Difficult People


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I am kind of a sucker for Christmas music.  I will often listen to a local radio station that starts playing holiday songs on Thanksgiving day. Songs like "It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year" have such a feel good vibe. The lyrics remind you, "It's the hap-happiest season of all. With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings, when friends come to call." Sure, the lyrics are a bit dated, but you get the point. Be happy - it's the holidays!

Many of you will be heading out to gatherings with friends and family this holiday season. And some of those events can be happy times. But many of you will also be in close quarters with someone you don't necessarily enjoy.  Perhaps this person has treated you badly in the past. They have been selfish, mean, difficult,  judgmental, or just plain irritating, and you would rather avoid them.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I think this is the perfect time to use the discipline of thankfulness to help you deal with the difficult people in your life. Last year around this time, I wrote a blog post about the transformative power of gratitude in which I challenged people write down three unique things they are thankful for every day for twenty one days. If you incorporate this practice into your life, it will help you learn to focus on the positive and feel more optimistic in general.

This year I want to challenge you to use this principle when you have to deal with difficult people in your personal or professional life. Take the time right now to think of one person in particular. Whenever you interact with them, or bring them to mind, think of three things about them for which you are grateful. For example, when you go home for the holidays and start feeling irritated about your sometimes judgmental, critical father, list three things you are thankful for about him. That list might include things like "I am thankful for his health, I am thankful he was around when I was growing up, I am thankful that he taught me right from wrong, I am thankful for his dry sense of humor."

You may have to dig deep if the person is very difficult, but expressing gratitude has the ability to begin to lighten your heart and melt the anger and baggage in your relationships.

Try following this practice of gratitude for the rest of the holiday season. If it works for you, keep using it whenever you encounter people you find difficult.

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