How to win over difficult people

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Giant businessman flicking miniature businessman

This post was partly prompted by my conversation with a nurse who was dismissed from a hospital I used to work at. I had been mulling the idea over in my mind, but her call sealed the decision to write on it. The purpose of difficult people in my life is to promote me. I decided this because, they act as a stumbling block to the unwise. Those who overcome them are considered stars, because they stop everyone else.

You will encounter them everywhere. The subordinate who is insubordinate, the boss who is impossible, the spouse who demands too much, need I say more? My friend, the nurse, called to complain about how she lost a job offer because, she got an unfavourable review when they called our former boss. He actually told them to “Employ her at their own risk”. She was very angry, going on and on about how unfair he was for saying so because of a “few” altercations. I tried to explain to her that she had obviously not learned her lesson. You cannot leave behind any reason for people to speak ill of you. The bible says “As much as it lies within your power, live in peace with all men” I have decided that it lies in my power. No one will push my buttons. I would rather let them think they got the better of me, than stand there screaming like a rabid dog, while they gloat; No!

When I was an intern, I had a disagreement with a nurse. She reported me to her Chief nursing officer, who reported me to my consultant. This was a man who was responsible for my fate as an intern. Prior to working under him, every other doctor who worked for him, was rewarded with an extension without pay. I decided not to suffer the same fate. I always got to work extra early to carry his briefcase in, did my rounds early, and worked hard on his private research. She was shocked when he told her to her face that I was incapable of doing what she accused me of. Privately, he warned me to be careful with them as they could set me up. I had actually done some of what she accused me of, though she exaggerated.

He didn’t even ask me if I had. Note that I did not need to defend myself. After that, I studied how to have the upper hand always. Not long after, I worked in a private hospital. The matron was unmarried, in her 50s, very experienced, very opinionated, and stubborn. I was a rookie and she knew it. I decided we would become best of friends. Every morning I paid her a compliment, bought her a soda at lunch, or just listened to her when she needed to vent. She was soon my “bestie”. She taught me so many skills, because I let her think she could order me around. When I gained confidence, I put her in her place. She could not be rude to me as it was too late. I remember how uncomfortable some of my colleagues were around her. She terrified them. They kept asking why she treated me differently.

You cannot put down such a person before her subordinates. Occasionally, you let her win. Praise her work, before finding fault, and she’ll take it. Let her know you’re in charge without saying so. If you have to say “I’m in charge here!”, then you’re not. I remember how she praised me before my boss, he was very surprised. She even took my side, when I had a disagreement with another nurse (very unusual). Also, I was the only person she trusted to treat her, when she was ill.

Put yourself in the shoes of difficult people, and you will be kinder. They may only be hurting. Hurting people hurt others. It doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat but, you must pick your battles wisely. My mother once told me this: if a mad man insults you, and you stop to fight with him, passers by seeing both of you unclothed will be unable to tell who is mad, from who is not. Do you see that difficult people seek to bring you to their level? What I do is to laugh. “I deny you permission to make me unhappy, try harder”, I keep in my thoughts. My friend, Ify used to say, “Nobody is responsible for my happiness”. I agree with her. That makes me no longer the victim but the victor.

Do you agree that your blood pressure is not going to be controlled by your security man who keeps forgetting your instructions? Will you suffer a stroke because your nanny cannot or refuses to remember to put forks on the left and knives on the right? I hope you can, for I want you to be healthy. Write to tell me how you handle difficult people. I would really love to hear your tips. Cheers


25 thoughts on “How to win over difficult people

    imperfectlyperfect92 said:
    January 22, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    I handle difficult people by just keeping quiet when they go into their rant and roll.
    I just rely on the Holy Spirit to fill me with his meekness and always works.
    And this post?? I love! So true!
    Thanks for sharing Dr N

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 23, 2014 at 7:41 am

      Keeping quiet is great. What if you have to prevent them from hurting other people? What do u do?

        imperfectlyperfect92 said:
        January 24, 2014 at 10:52 pm

        Prevent them frm hurting other people? I don’t know in what context dis is but if it comes 2dat,I will do dat as gently and as soft spoken as I can

    tenderonii said:
    January 23, 2014 at 4:16 am

    I enjoyed this post as always.
    All in all, I do try not to defend myself and stay quiet. Naturally, I’m great at not letting people push me around, so just like you I try not to be on peoples bad sides. You are indeed a bundle of testimony. I love your blog Aunty.

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 23, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Thanks for that Tenderonii. How exactly do u stop them from pushing u around? Despite their forceful personality?

        tenderonii said:
        January 23, 2014 at 8:51 am

        The truth is I have never been in a position where I’m directly under someone especially in a work environment.
        But in my own case, for example when I did some hospital practicals last holiday, the consultant was such a difficult person to please and even the doctors that had been working there for years melt in his presence. So, when I realized his method of training, being that he wasn’t a patient person, the first few day was not funny but after then I made sure to do much more than he required from me, during the ward rounds I would give him the case history of the patient as soon as he gets to the patient, I was smart and bold in talking, so on and so forth. He automatically stopped because it was clear that I knew what I was doing and was ready to learn. Even the nurses commended me, lol. At the end of my stay dere, he called me and asked told me that he would love to be my mentor. He asked me to call him anytime, even when I get back to school. That was how I did it Dr. N, I guess that’s the only scenario I have found myself in lately. lol

        drnsmusings responded:
        January 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm

        Really? Awesome! U had him eating out of your hands. Begging to mentor u? Lol. Thumbs up

    Femmetotale said:
    January 23, 2014 at 11:29 am

    ***Put yourself in the shoes of difficult people, and you will be kinder. They may only be hurting. Hurting people hurt others.***

    This is sooooooo true! In my years of working with people I have encountered the good, the bad and the ugly. Luckily, God has clothed me with a special grace that makes them favour me even when they’re mean to others. I remember a particular boss that blasted a junior colleague of mine for walking into a meeting with her heels clanking on the floor. He said the sound irritates him and he had warned her before. I looked at myself, and I was wearing heels too but he couldn’t make such a statement. I suppose it is because I always carry myself with dignity and respect while humbly performing my duties to the best of my abilities.

    However, the difficult people I have not quite mastered the art of handling are the ones under me. I know it is majorly cos I’m much younger than them but hey I didn’t put them in their position. One day what u said about putting urself in their shoes actually occurred to me and I tried to be more understanding, even ignoring the annoying feeling I get from their insubordination.

    I sooooo love the picture with this post. I’m going to mentally imagine myself doing that every time I encounter a difficult person. #Hehehehehehehehehe 😀

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Yeah love the pic too. Hahaha! It’s so painful for people to be under someone younger. Guess u can’t demote youself, u can only be kind

    Akang said:
    January 24, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I love this —> “Put yourself in the shoes of difficult people, and you will be kinder. They may only be hurting. Hurting people hurt others. It doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat but, you must pick your battles wisely.” …in fact I have shared the quote on facebook!
    For me I try not to take things presonally. I decide that the difficult person does not mean me personal harm. He/she just does not know how to relate better. That way, I can handle the situation level headedly without getting too emotional. More importantly, I forgive in advance… I understand that every human being has the potential to offend me so I make up my mind to forgive anyone and anything. That makes it easier for me to relate with people and make decisions without getting offended.

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Very powerful. I love the forgiving part. Cheers

    niki said:
    January 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    This is still something im learning. A woman at my workplace is very tempermental. Some days when you greet her she answers, other days she ignores, kiss her tooth or whatever else. I have just learnt to only talk to her if i have to. I just do my own thing and even when she does something or act a certain way, i act like i cant see her. Ive seen her relate to a lot of ppl and she seems like that with them aswell. So that has helped me not to take her ‘shenanigans’ take personally!

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Prob lost in her own problems. Who knows? Marriage troubles? Infertility? Money? It’s well

    niki said:
    January 24, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    I guess so, but we all have issues. I get what you are saying though.

    MO said:
    January 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Just curious abt dis write up. How is this different from ass kissing/ hyprocritical/ selfish? U bought the matron drinks because you wanted her to like you, she did and then you put her in her place much later. You did it because you wanted something, not because you were doing the right thing.

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 27, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Back to my sentence “difficult people may only be hurting”. In Christianese we dont use d terms u did but I get your point. The post was not about her or i would go on to tell u how many problems I found out she had. I was her superior and did not need to kiss nothing. I came down off my high horse to befriend her so she opened up to me. Wanted something? From my subordinate? What could that be dear? Hope u come back again and thanks for taking time to comment

    Talkwedding said:
    January 27, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Makes a lot of sense. Some can be really really difficult to deal with. I understand that looking at things from their point of view/ puttin oneself in his/her shoes will help but sometimes, it doesn’t work!
    And “MO”, I don’t think it’s about kissin their ass, it’s more like knowing how to deal with pple, even the ones others are scared of so everyone is happy.
    Guess sometimes, we have to “close our eyes” to certain things they do. But once they are on your side, it’s over! U get to see the other side pple don’t get to see.
    I still have plenty of learning to do myself.

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 27, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      Sometimes putting yourself in their shoes doesn’t work, but it will keep u sane. Thanks for dropping by.

    Simeon said:
    January 27, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Nice reply. I mean the last one

    norah said:
    April 1, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    as much as i love ur writeups whlie perusing, i just could nt stop my self from commenting…… U c,i noticed dis ego tin u ave going on esp wiv d doc-nurse relationship ish. Obviously, u r good @ wat u do, i would just love it if stp seeing urself as being superior to oda members of d health team.
    *just saying*
    Asides dat though, i love ur view of life and ow u handle situations arnd u.
    Courtesy: me:)

      drnsmusings responded:
      April 1, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      I have no problem with other members of the health team. I only expect of them the same humility I show my own superiors. Since I have never been accused of letting my “ego” get in the way of my work, I expect those reporting to me to leave theirs at home. Thanks for stopping by.

      E' said:
      July 22, 2015 at 12:10 am

      Errrr but no matter how we push for an egalitarian society, it remains utopian.
      Social (and professional) classes exist err’where. We can’t make it disappear no matter how humble we are. And that’s the beauty of life and living. Learning how to interact with the horizontals and then the verticals (both upward and downward).
      When will we all learn that a positive self image and self worth (especially with respect for all) is not pride? Or ‘superiority’

        drnsmusings responded:
        July 22, 2015 at 7:26 am

        A gam ehere ya akwa? Abegggi

    E' said:
    July 22, 2015 at 12:05 am

    Laughing at the commenters

    Anyhoos to the matter at hand, I would have handled the nurse d exact way u did. Maybe tz ‘kissing ass’ but I’ll kiss ass if it would earn me ‘something’ and then attendant peace. Tz actualy humility and it ain’t too much to be. Such people eventually come around. That’s WISDOM in christianese. I don’t like trouble ooo. And I’m rather friendly so I’ll make it all about you.
    Now for the really difficult ones who ‘mean me’ lol, I’ll try to be civil and prof still and then we report to our ‘Oga above’. He is a specialist in impossible people lol.

      drnsmusings responded:
      July 22, 2015 at 7:25 am

      That commenter dragged me ehhh. Anyway, I was younger n inexperienced. Try am now, I will discipline u

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