Being at Your Best with Difficult People and Situations

Let’s talk communication. Communication is easy when it’s easy. When we’re getting along with others, having fun, feeling comfortable, it’s a pleasure to be communicating. Our communication competence is required of us when the going gets tough. Being at our best is required when we’re challenged by others, when we find ourselves in disagreement, when we encounter a difficult person or situation.

Being at our best when it’s most difficult is the real test of our maturity and character. There are a variety of helpful tactics and messages that can be employed given certain difficult circumstances that increase the likelihood of favourable outcomes. But for us, for now, let’s start at the most fundamental and most vital: thinking.

The way we think about ourselves, others, and the situation is the foundation from which we begin any difficult engagement. Being at your best when confronted with difficulty requires you to be able to think clearly and rationally; to not be sucked into a losing battle; and, to remain calm and be fair (with yourself and others). Easier said than done when your blood pressure is rising, your heart is pounding because of this insensitive, overbearing #@#@!- whoa- easy big fella. Yes, it can be hard, but it’s not impossible. Let’s take a look at something that can make a real difference and help us deal better with the inevitable difficult circumstances of life.

Take a page from Buddha. Mentally thank the difficult person or situation for allowing you the opportunity to be your best. I, as an experienced squash player, take little pride in beating a far worse player. I’m thankful for a match that pushes me to the limit. We’re thankful of the experiences in our life that push us to be at our best in maturity and character. In Buddhism we would think of difficult people and situations as our teachers. They are allowing us to practice being better; without them we can never improve and grow in maturity and character.

If at this point, you, the reader, are going along with this so far…great! That means you’re open to some ideas that challenge our normal sense of conflict resolution and you probably have the mental capacity to actually think this way when you’re next confronted by something difficult.

The reason we want to be so gratuitous is because this mind-set frames the circumstance differently in our head. We are what we think. Our thoughts create our emotions; our emotions impact our behavior; our behavior is all everyone else sees and hears. It all starts with the way we think.

Instead of getting upset, frustrated, anxious when confronted by a difficult person or situation start with the most fundamental. Control what you can: think calm, think rational, and think Thank You.

Paul Byrne
Mackay Byrne Group