If someone calls YOU “difficult”

I like to read the “Dear Abby” section of the newspaper. Yes, I know that Abby is gone and it’s her daughter who writes it, but it will always be “Dear Abby” to me!

Anyway, today’s section had a story from a mother who has a daughter that gets upset with her every time the mom visits the daughter’s home. The mom can’t understand what it is she says, and does, that makes the daughter so upset. “Abby’s” response was that the daughter may be processing experiences from the past; the mother should stay away for a while and let things settle down, and maybe she should ask the other daughters why this daughter gets upset with her.

My response to this is “NO!” Here is such a great real-world example of how one can apply the five secrets to situations in their own lives. Now, let’s face it – none of us like to believe we are the “difficult” person or the one other people get upset with because of our actions. But if you know the secrets – and have learned about behavioral style and values, or giving information without context, for example – you’ll know thatwe can’t help but sometimes be the one that others find difficult!

So what should this mother do? What should any of us do when we sense that we are getting on someone else’s nerves and we’re not sure why? This is where assuming the role of Interested Observer works very well. The Interested Observer talks less, listens more and watches objectively what’s happening in any interpersonal situation.

When I realized I was irritating my own sister, I could take the position that “Abby” took – “Well, it’s history between us as siblings.” But instead, I chose to take an Interested Observer role. I was shocked to see that I often still talked to her as if she were the little sister who didn’t know any better. I saw my style and demeanor change with her, and saw that I DID treat her differently than I did my friends.

Stepping outside the situation and watching what was happening, refraining from talking too much and overruling her, and being willing to view the exchange, instead of getting defensive about it, gave me information that I really needed to strengthen our relationship.

We laugh about it now and I can see it as funny, but at the time when we were operating without this knowledge, it felt uncomfortable to both of us.

So if someone accuses you of being difficult, or if you feel someone is being unfair and unjust with you – don’t judge them and don’t judge yourself. Just take the time to view the situation and be objective about what you see. Understanding other people is all about learning more about our own behavior and that of others!