Whether it's a co-worker, a family member or a customer, everyone deals with difficult people at some point in their lives. Sadly, some of us more than others. I deal with extremely upset people on a daily basis and this is what I've learned to help turn the situation around. As much as it sucks and as much as I want to throw in the towel some days, I really feel that dealing with difficult situations has helped me grow as a person. Xanax helps too.
1. Listen. This sounds obvious, but it's easy to tune out people that are being difficult. Make eye cotact if possible and stay engaged.
2. Let them vent, but not endlessly. Everyone has vented at one point or another, even you I'll bet. This person may do their venting differently than you, but it's a vent nonetheless. Let them make their point and if they start repeating, gain agreement with them on the situation they are upset about. This has a magical way of stopping someone that is ranting dead in their tracks.
3. Set the tone. Their tone way be aggravated or a bit loud, but yours doesn't have to be. Speak as you normally would and be firm in your statements.
4. Acknowledge their frustration. You've been upset a few times in your life, everyone has. You can relate to them in some way. Let them know. Empathize as sincerely as you possibly can. This not only show them that you truly care about their situation, but it will also help you gain a clearer understanding of where they are coming from.
5. Speak up. State your opinion while still respecting theirs. You don't have to yes them to death or agree with everything they say. Stating your own opinion shows that you are listening.
6. Focus on the goal or solution. Nothing will get resolved by staying focused on the problem. Let them know that you care about their feelings as well as finding a resolution.
7. You're not a punching bag. Venting is one thing, but abusive language and trying to make someone else feel bad is another. and If the conversation becomes aggressive or makes you uncomfortable, remove yourself from it. You can give a warning if you feel comfortable doing so, let the person know that they are making you uncomfortable. Some people just need some time to reflect on what is bothering them, alone.
8. Control the conversation. This can be a tricky one when you are dealing with a difficult or frustrated person. Reiterate your opinion and what you think can be done to resolve the issue. Do so without using "stop words" such as can't and won't. It's amazing the negative effect these words can have on people.
It can be upsetting dealing with people that don't want to work things out, but just remember that a lot of the time most of their frustration isn't because of you. Don't take it personal. Sometimes you have to take a step back, take a deep breath and evaluate the situation. It usually helps me to think about something positive, like my kids or the giant glass of Pinot Noir that is waiting for me to get home from work. You is Smart. You is Kind. You is important. You got this!