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Research shows that supportive relationships are good for our mental and physical health. However, dealing with difficult people and maintaining ongoing negative relationships is actually detrimental to our health.

The following are tips for dealing with difficult people who are in your life, for better or for worse:

  1. In dealing with difficult people, don’t try to change the other person; you will only get into a power struggle, cause defensiveness, invite criticism, or otherwise make things worse. It also makes you a more difficult person to deal with.
  2. Change your response to the other person; this is all you have the power to change. For example, don’t feel you need to accept abusive behavior. You can use assertive communication to draw boundaries when the other person chooses to treat you in an unacceptable way.
  3. Remember that most relationship difficulties are due to a dynamic between two people rather than one person being unilaterally “bad.” Try not to place blame on yourself or the other person for the negative interactions. It may just be a case of your two personalities fitting poorly.
  4. Try to look for the positive aspects of others, especially when dealing with family, and focus on them. The other person will feel more appreciated, and you will likely enjoy your time together more.
  5. Know when it’s time to distance yourself, and do so. If the other person can’t be around you without antagonizing you, minimizing contact may be key. If they’re continually abusive, it’s best to cut ties and let them know why. Explain what needs to happen if there ever is to be a relationship, and let it go. (If the offending party is a boss or co-worker, you may consider switching jobs.)

epictetusTips:

Remember that you don’t have to be close with everyone; just being polite goes a long way toward getting along and appropriately dealing with difficult people. Be sure to cultivate other more positive relationships in your life to offset the negativity of dealing with difficult people.

 

From Elizabeth Scott, M.S.,Your Guide to Stress Management About.com Health’s Disease and Condition

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