Dealing with difficult people goes beyond working with difficult people but often means trying to handle frustrating and distressing family members. In recent consultations with clients here is an example of a typical experience when dealing with difficult people who are family members.
AN EXAMPLE OF FAMILY MEMBER CONFLICT
Here’s what one client explained. I thank you for your suggestions on coping with difficult people. But what I’ve seen is that in dealing with difficult people at work it’s simple as compared to family members. I’ve changed the way I am communicating with family members and they are being very stubborn trying to keeps everything the same.
CHANGING THE COMMUNICATION RULES WITH OTHERS
When I started setting limits, setting boundaries and speaking out about how I truly feel there was a backlash. As other family members have continued to try and stick their nose into my personal space I have been very strong to keep reminding them about my personal boundaries. However, a close family member has stopped talking to me altogether and cut off all communication.
DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE AND NOTHING NEW
This response from other people is nothing new. This occurs when dealing with difficult people at work and personal experience. When you alter your communication patterns with someone, their first response is to keep working harder to keep the communication the same. When you still persist to change your communication, they often respond by cutting off their communication.
FAMILY SYSTEMS AND COPING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
Dealing with difficult people who are family members is often much more complex than dealing with difficult people at work. This is because family members often know the behavior of each other so well. There have been years and years of dysfunctional communication patterns happening in the family system. When one family member attempts to change the way they communicate, the reaction of others is way over the top. Family members often react with a greater degree of resistance to these long held communication patterns. Going to extremes of becoming even more negative in their communication or refusing to communicate.
COMMUNICATION HAS STOPPED – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN
There’s many ways to handle things when a member of the family cuts off communication with you. But the most vital point for you to remember in dealing with difficult people in any situation is this.
YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANOTHER PERSON
Here it is. In the end other people must take responsibility. You can attempt to work through the issues with them. But ultimately, it’s their decision whether or not they cut off all communication with you.
You have to be aware that no matter how you attempt to handle the situation, sometimes family members decide to ‘cut all ties’ and no longer communicate with you. You need to recognize that in the end it is their decision to behave in this way. You have to actually respect their decision and let go in dealing with difficult people. Let go, give them the space they have demanded and get on with living your life.
DEALING WITH PEOPLE FINDING MORE IDEAS
In further articles we’ll look at other methods of dealing with people who cut of communication with you. But now stop the guilt. Remember that the decisions adults make are their own choices. Dealing with difficult people in the family means understanding, as you do in dealing with difficult people at work, that everybody makes their own decisions about their lives.