Communicating with Difficult People

Have you ever had to deal with a difficult person? Many of us have. Even if you eliminate toxic relationships, you are bound to encounter someone else along your life that will be difficult. Conflict is inevitable. The thing to remember when you are faced with a challenging person is to pause before reacting. This pause will enable you to think before you act so you can choose a good plan of action to deal with the person. There are times we can choose to not deal with someone by never talking to that person again. However, if that difficult person is your spouse or someone you are not prepared to let go of, you should find ways to deal with them properly.

Silhouette of man and woman yelling at each other

A great strategy I’ve learned to use when dealing with a difficult person is the “DEAR MAN” method. This method was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan as a part of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I believe it is a great way to communicate effectively without blowing up at someone but instead get the outcome you want from the situation.

D is for Describe: describe to the person the problem you see by using factual information. This is not the time to share your analysis of what you think might be occurring, but instead stick to accurate data of what’s happened or what that person did.  

E is for Express: express your opinions and how you feel without assuming that the other person can read your mind. This is the time you can be transparent and share your emotions about how you feel in regards to what the person is doing.

A is for Assert: assert yourself and say what it is you want or need from that person. Again, do not assume that they are mind readers.

R is for Reinforce: reinforce the other person by sharing what the benefits are for working the situation out. This is a great time to come up with solutions to the problem so it can be a win-win.

M is for Mindfulness: mindfully keep focus of your objective and don’t allow distractions to throw you off track. Stay on target and work to not go off on tangents and digress to other unrelated topics.  

A is for Appear Confident: confidently articulate your point of view, use a clear tone of voice, make good eye contact, and use good posture when addressing the other individual.

N is for Negotiate: negotiating might be necessary to reach a win-win result. Be willing to give to get if need be. Ask yourself what if there is anything you would settle for in order to get what you want out of the situation.

In full disclosure, I do not use this method in my life as much as I should, but in the times I have, the outcome has been a good one.  

Are you currently dealing with a difficult person in your life? Do you want to make the relationship better? If so, consider this way of communicating. It might just be what works and turns the situation around for the better.