There Goes My Last Nerve – Dealing with Difficult People

There Goes My Last Nerve – Dealing with Difficult People

You can feel the press of someone’s feet into your seat on the plane. Ok, the first time is a mistake. You feel it again. You purse your lips tight as if it’ll hold back the sting of the volatile words you want to say. They have to be stretching out their legs. Kick! Ok, that one felt personal. Why would this person continue to do something that was clearly upsetting you? You start to feel your face get hot. Your heart rate increases. You feel as if you’re ready to run the gym class mile. Except, you’re buckled in a seat. There’s nothing to run from, or for. There’s no battle to be fought. You turn around, and see that it is a mom feverishly trying to fix a bottle for her baby.

It’s easy to run with a narrative in your head on why a person might be trying to purposefully elicit a response from you. In most cases the totality of circumstances isn’t taken into account. Everyone’s on their own path, on their own timeline. Most of the time they’re not intentionally trying to be difficult towards you.

  • Stop
  • Breathe
  • Act

Next time you encounter a difficult person try the “stop, breathe, and act method”: Stop what you’re doing in order to focus your brain. Take a deep inhale to flood your lungs with fresh air. This helps aid any type of fight or flight response. This also helps prevent you from saying the first “colorful” words that come to mind. Take in your surroundings. Decide your best course of action.

Whether it’s someone kicking your seat on a plane, challenging family members, or your coworker who chooses to microwave fish in the communal microwave. Most of the time they’re not trying to be difficult, or intentionally upset you. It’s your job to communicate your internal feelings in an outward way in which the person can receive them. Introspection, and realizing that most things aren’t meant to be personal will likely help.

Practice makes this skill set easier to use in a difficult situation. If you are still struggling or want more information please call the Behavioral Wellness Group, we are here to help.

Cathryn E. Knezevich, M.Ed., PCC
Therapist and DBT IOP Director
The Behavioral Wellness Group
8224 Mentor Ave #208     Mentor OH  44060
P:  440 392 2222 #304    F:  440 565 2349