What I’ve Learned from “Difficult” People

A thankfulfew years ago, I would have complained that I had to deal almost daily with people who irritated me.

I had no concept of all the mean and completely self-centered people I would someday not only deal with on a regular basis but also come to accept. I would have thought I was too strong-willed and strong-minded to tolerate such people.

But a few years ago, I wouldn’t have recognized that, sometimes, being tolerant is not only the best way to deal with most difficult people, it is also a great learning experience.

That’s not to say I’ll ever accept bad or abusive behavior, but it does mean that one of the benefits of getting older is gaining perspective. And perspective has taught me that difficult people have done more to teach me about how to live my life than many of the kind and giving people I also encounter on a daily basis.

Difficult people have taught me that paying attention and listening to others is much more important than ensuring others listen to me.

Difficult people have taught me that a rude word will always being louder than a compliment that is shouted to the world.

Difficult people have taught me that being concerned with who gets credit for good deeds or successes tarnishes all that has been accomplished.

Difficult people have taught me that spreading lies and half-truths may garner immediate attention but will ultimately lead to a lack of credibility.

Difficult people have taught me that belittling, attempting to control or asserting power over others actually renders a person weak in the eyes of others.

And difficult people have taught me that refusal to adopt others’ ideas or accept constructive criticism stunts growth and limits possibilities.

I would be lying if I said difficult people no longer bother me or manage to get under skin. They do.

But I do find that the older I get, the less time and emotional energy I waste wishing I could change difficult people and the more time and energy I spend contemplating how to best apply their lessons to my own life.

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About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter in high school, a son starting his latest adventures at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on September 28, 2014, in My life, perspective and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This advice is very very good Trina! I can apply it to certain people in my own life and will save your post in my Big Black Book to give to my grandchildren. Thanks for sharing.

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