"The HSP and difficult people" is an important topic. Cross, crass, cranky, demanding, demeaning people…if you’re an HSP, these folks are hard to take. From around the Web, I’ve collected four great articles. They are worth printing out to keep handy.
They weren’t written specifically for the highly sensitive person. Still, the problems described are ones we certainly encounter. Furthermore, the solutions offered are ones that fit our values.
Health expert and wellness coach Susan Biali, M.D. reminds us not to judge a prickly person too quickly:
I’ve learned in my work that most of the “difficult,” less likable people quickly become more likable if you take a moment to listen to them, to really see them. Demonstrate that you hear them and acknowledge their situation and needs, instead of reacting in frustration or rejection (the more natural automatic response).
-Susan Biali, 5 Ways to Use Kindness to Defuse Difficult People
For ways to identify those who deserve the benefit of the doubt, see her other kindness strategies here. They can de-escalate what could otherwise be a difficult situation.
Truly unreasonable people
In a companion article, Bialis has important advice for dealing with those who don’t respond to reasonable behavior on your part with some of their own. She suggests:
Stay away from topics that get you into trouble. Before going into an interaction with a difficult person, review in your mind the topics that invite attack and be proactive about avoiding them. For example, if your in-laws always make cracks about your choice of career, answer neutrally and change the subject immediately if they ask you how work is going.
-Susan Biali, Don't Try to Reason with Unreasonable People
Find seven more wise, practical, do-able things to do here.
Leadership coach and performance consultant Alicia Bassuk writes about those infused with toxicity, saying:
People like this likely spent much of their formative years in environments (households, schools, neighborhoods) where social interactions were often abrasive and contentious. The volume knob for conversations turned from loud to yelling. Patience had a brief life expectancy, and courtesy was virtually extinct. For the Toxically Infused, corrosive communication has become habitual and ingrained.
People with high EQs balance good manners, empathy, and kindness with the ability to assert themselves and establish boundaries. This tactful combination is ideal for handling conflict. When most people are crossed, they default to passive or aggressive behavior. Emotionally intelligent people remain balanced and assertive by steering themselves away from unfiltered emotional reactions. This enables them to neutralize difficult and toxic people without creating enemies.
-Travis Bradbury, 11 Signs that You Lack Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (what to say to whom and when) is an area where anyone, including the HSP, may initially experience problems. With age and experience, HSPs often can become masters of this kind of balance.