In life you’re going to have to deal with people you don’t get along with–that is just the way the world works. Today, Connor and Brittany talk about their own experiences and some tips on dealing with difficult people.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi Connor.
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: So, you know, on this show we talk about the way the world works and that has included, you know, career advice and personal advice and our listeners might be kids. Now it might be easy to play with friends and get along with people, but one thing that is just unavoidable in life is dealing with difficult people. And honestly, I wish it was, I wish we just didn’t have to deal with difficult people, but it happens all the time and it only gets worse with adulthood. So I thought it might be interesting today to kind of give some tips, maybe share some horror stories about how you live in a world full of people who don’t get along. Right? How do we deal with difficult people?
Connor: Well, teach me.
Brittany: Well, okay, so lemme give you one story. I’m gonna give you a story about, this is in a work setting. So I pride myself, like I’m a pretty good writer and I had had goodness, like 10 years of experience and I started at this job, this is only two years ago, with a girl who was like 10 years younger than me. She didn’t wanna let me do anything. And so one day, this is like the most embarrassing thing ever. So, you know, like, in, I don’t know if kids know about instant messenger, they probably know more than I do. In fact, they don’t think it’s called instant Messenger anymore. So we,
Connor: We have slack you don’t need to clarify that. It’s cause everything today,
Brittany: Everything’s incident.
Connor: Back in the day it was like, do you wanna send them a letter in the mail, or do you want instant messenger?
Brittany: So we used this thing called Slack at work, which is a great company actually, but, so it’s kind of like a mess, just a messaging system. So I had a the coworker who was difficult, whose name started with a C, and then my supervisor’s name started with a C also. And I had messaged my supervisor asking her for advice on what to do, explaining how difficult this girl was and how I just couldn’t stand her anymore. Well, here’s what I accidentally did. I sent it to the coworker, uhoh. Yeah. And I didn’t know until 30 minutes later. And in the meantime, the coworker knew, and we had a meeting together. So she knew the whole meeting that I had just written a thing, like complaining about her. And we had to sit through a meeting together. So I go back to my desk after and I look at my messages and I like realize what I had done. And I had this moment of like, oh my goodness. So I called my supervisor immediately and she’s like, you know, let me know what you need to do to take care of it. And I had this moment of, cause I’m a pretty anxious person, I had this moment of, okay, my instinct is telling me to just let my supervisor deal with this. But I was like, you know what, how does that make me look as far as, you know, standing up for myself even and or just, you know, not coming to the grill directly and saying, this is my problem with you. so I said, no, I’m gonna handle it. So I ended up going up to her and saying, listen, it’s clear we have some tension between us why don’t you and I go out, you know, and, get some coffee or get some lunch and let’s talk about what’s going on. And I will tell you, Connor, that was the most uncomfortable 30 minutes of my entire life. But I came out of it and I was like, you know what? Like, look at me being a mature adult. Like, look at me problem-solving. And that has made it easier for me to have conversations like that now. Like that kind of setup, you know, it got easier for me to do these things in the future. So, yeah. So you can deal with difficult people, just try not to instant message them.
Connor: you. Yeah. And if you do make sure as you’re actually sending it to the right person, you know, I guess there was no undo, well there probably is an undu button in Slack. You just didn’t know that you sent that person.
Brittany: It was so bad.
Connor: You used a word, Brittany that I want to latch onto. You said you spoke, you know, directly to them instead of the supervisor. spoke directly to them. And so where the question today is how to deal with difficult people, in my mind, and what’s interesting about this, I should pause really quick, is I think this applies to a lot of situations, right? It applies to an example like you gave where maybe it’s someone at work that you’re having to deal with for the older kids out there, who are getting jobs. Maybe if you’re at school, right? It could be a classmate or if you’re homeschooled, it could be your classmate and sibling. you know, or yeah, like in family it could be siblings or parents, or these are just general relationship, kinda issues I think that we all face. And we’re always gonna have conflict, right? Like, we’re always gonna find people who rub us the wrong way or do something that we don’t like. Or maybe, you know, we mistakenly think that they did something that they didn’t. And so this conflict, I feel like is just, you know, happens throughout our life in different circumstances. And so even for the younger kids out there, I feel like, you know, this is something to think through about how to deal, you know, with a sibling when they’re being difficult or how your parent, you know, is trying to deal with you when you’re difficult. And being direct, like you just said, I think is super important because when we try and avoid a problem, you know, it, only gets worse. I think of like, one time I was on a hike, back in my boy scout days when I was a lot younger and there was a little pebble in my shoe and we were on this long hike and I didn’t wanna deal with it, and I didn’t, you know, I was, wearing these like boots and I, didn’t wanna stop and make everyone wait and, you know, any of that. So I just kept walking and I ignored it and I kept ignoring it. And the pain started to grow and I was like, oh, you know, only a little bit more, only a little bit more I can do. And you know, pretty soon my foot was not doing well at all. Yeah. just because of this tiny little pebble that with like, you know, two minutes of effort I could have gotten rid of. And I think it’s that way with problems too, is that if we don’t deal with it directly, you know, if we try and avoid a problem, if we try and excuse me, if we try and pretend it didn’t happen, I think inevitably we’re just going to make the problem worse. And by being direct and being direct doesn’t mean like being a jerk or anything, right? it doesn’t mean that you’re being aggressive or like, oh, I have a problem with you. Right. That’s not what I’m saying. it’s more like what you did Britney. it’s like, look, I realize there’s a problem here. Can we talk about it? And trying to have a little bit of maturity where you can just have a conversation and try and understand, okay, like what, you know, what do you not like about what’s happening? I’d like to share with you how I feel. Let’s talk about how we can kind of work this out. And, there’s another term here called emotional maturity. right?
Brittany: Ohh, I just learn about that.
Connor: You know, we all know what immaturity is and maturity and so for the younger kids, this is something to work on, you know, and for some of us adults, it’s something that we still gotta work on. Emotional maturity is just this idea that you’re, managing your emotions. You’re mature enough to control your emotions and not fly off the handle and not scream at someone or, you know, punch ’em or tell ’em off or cuss ’em out or any of that kind of stuff. But that you can kind of just control your emotions and try and have a very diplomatic and even conversation. And yeah, diplomacy is like conversation basically. Rather than going to war with another country, if you have diplomacy, you’re talking through your problems. And so when you’re diplomatic, you’re, trying to talk it through rather than just, doing something you may later regret. So I really like that you said that Brit, cuz I think a lot of the answers to our question today, how to deal with difficult people, may revolve around just, you know, having a conversation and being direct with the person saying, Hey, I have this concern, or, Hey, I don’t like that you did that. You know, would you mind not doing that again? And it does require a bit of bravery, right? Like, that’s a hard conversation to have. Sometimes you feel like, oh, it’s easier to ignore it, maybe it won’t happen again. But I feel like that pebble in the shoe, you know, maybe things are just gonna get worse.
Brittany: I’m gonna butcher this quote, but Tim Ferris, who’s a podcaster that I love, he’s a quote, this is something along the lines of like, the most rewarding things in life come from difficult conversations. And I’ve always thought about that one, I have to have difficult conversations, but I think there’s an even larger lesson here that you just reminded me of. And we’ve all heard the term Karen, right? Like, Karen’s the lady that will call the police on you if you’re doing anything that she doesn’t like. Well, part of the reason that happens, I think is because we don’t confront people directly, right? And so a lot of times we turn to the state. So let’s say your neighbor’s having a loud part and you’re angry and you wanna sleep, you know, instead of like, people used to just go over to their neighbors cuz they knew their neighbors and said like, Hey, you know, it’s, getting late and you’re being cut loud and you know, I have kids or I wanna go to bed. And they would be like, all right, let me, you know, tone things down and, it would be settled. Nowadays, people don’t want to have that direct contact. So what do they do? They just call the police, right? And then they get law enforcement involved and then you’re getting the government involved. So I think this is even, it goes more than just like a sibling or, a kid at school. Like this is also living in a society, if we’re just direct with people, we just say like, Hey, I’m kind of having a problem with this. Can we solve this? I think we would use government a lot less than we’re using it now.
Connor: I had a neighbor, that the story that you shared reminded me of, this was about, I’d say about 10 years ago. And this neighbor had very tall weeds that were growing and, you know, beyond what the city law apparently says on the matter. And so the other neighbor called the cops on them. Oh my goodness. And, I’m like, they’re just weeds. And I, think their argument was, well those weeds, grass seeds, and then they blow into my, you know, front lawn and it’s, and you know, and it’s an act of long aggression, right? lawn, their seeds are blowing into my seeds and they didn’t use that term, I’m just being silly, But we did call the cops. And you know, imagine like, I have no idea to this day what that person was going through. Like I know that when we had our daughter, she was a very difficult baby and my wife and I hardly got any sleep. And, we were kind of struggling in those early days cuz she was a tough little baby. And the last thing on my mind was pulling weeds in the front yard, you know? And our weeds probably got pretty tall, I don’t remember, but thank goodness no one called the cops on us. But, you know, we don’t know what someone else is going through. So when we’re dealing with difficult people, I think that’s another important thing to remember. Like the kids listening have probably read the Tuttle twins in the golden Rule right? And if you are in a difficult place in life and maybe you’re letting some stuff slip or maybe you’re being a bit cranky or you know, you’re not getting your stuff done or whatever, right? Maybe you’re being difficult for other people. And, in those moments, how would you want to be treated by those people, right? Do you want them riding on you and criticizing you and you’re not good enough? You know, pick up the slack or, you know, would you want someone to reach out and be like, Hey, can I help? you know, imagine if my neighbor, instead of calling cops on the other neighborhood, just done a little service project you know, and went and pulled some weeds and said, Hey, you know, you must be busy. I just saw this. I thought I’d, you know, give you a hand. And if that person was in a position of life where they needed that help, that would’ve, I mean, think of like the blessing that would be to that person and how grateful they’ve, and think of the relationship now, right? Between those neighbors and they’d have a very warm relationship and, even if the person was just being lazy or whatever, they’d probably still feel very grateful and they’d still form a great relationship. Well instead, now think like, oh, my neighbor called the cops and me, I have a suspicion of which one it was like, that doesn’t create a good relationship. No. And, so what, how do we deal with difficult people? I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said, and I never like quoting him cuz you know.
Brittany: We’ll get into, in another episode.
Connor: Yeah, we’ll do the Abraham Lincoln episode eventually Kids, all the things that school never taught you about Abraham Lincoln. but one of his quotes, I think it’s his, where he says something to the effect of, the best way to defeat your enemy is to make ’em your friend. And there’s such power in that e even if you don’t become friends, like just neutralizing the enemy, right? Just like making it so that they’re, you know, not frustrated or not, you know, causing any problems anymore. So, finding ways to like, turn things around, so like that little act of service could have, turned things around. Imagine if they’re, you know, like if you go to school and there’s like the bully, you know, or the kid at school that’s picking on you, and imagine if you had the courage to like, do something nice for them or like buy them lunch, you know, or, something like that just like throws them off their game a little bit. Or like, wait, what?
Brittany: Kill them with kindness. Kind of like that expression.
Connor: Yeah. Kill them with kindness. Yeah. Yeah.
Brittany: No, I think that’s really good. I think, because again like you’re not going to avoid people you don’t get along with. Like, everybody is going to meet somebody they don’t get along with. Everybody’s gonna meet someone difficult. This is again, the way the world works. We are filled, a world filled with individuals and with so many strong personalities and different characteristics, like of course you’re gonna meet people you don’t like, but you’re stuck with ’em so. So I think this is really good advice.
Connor: I think it is too. And probably good for a family discussion, brainstorming ways that, you know, whatever you’re dealing with in your life, maybe there are, you know, some, bullies or difficult people causing you problems. I know this is something that we talk about with my kids and finding ways to deal with those situations in a way that can be mature, that can actually form a good relationship and, put you in a position I think where as you grow up, you’re better able to handle those situations, which Brittany, as you point out, are never gonna go away. but the better we can learn to handle them, the better we’re gonna be, the more successful we’re gonna be, the happier I think we’ll be. so good lessons to learn. Thanks, Brittany. And until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.