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