We all have challenging people in our lives yet unfortunately few of us have been properly trained in how to effectively deal with them. Well, that’s going to change today. In no particular order, using the an acronym “C~U~R~B Appeal”, you will learn tips that will better enable you to get along with difficult people.
C: Consequences Very often when we are dealing with challenging individuals we fail to set limits and boundaries. We may be comfortable speaking up and addressing their inappropriate behaviors or attitudes. Additionally we might also comment on how we expect them to behave. However, that’s typically as far as we get. Without motivation to change (which can either be a reward or a penalty) people are often inclined to continue doing what they’re doing without regard for the feelings or impact it has on others. Much like our speed limits, if police officers only expressed a desire that we obey them rather than exceed those limits, few would comply. Imposing a ticket or points on the offender’s license gives one ample reason to make the necessary changes. The key to effective consequences is following through with them.
U: Understanding It’s essential to realize that behavior is an outward expression of our internal issues. Those who are arrogant, vengeful, rude, combative, uncooperative, etc. are verbally or physically expressing what is bothering them inside, those issues that they have not yet resolved or healed. Individuals are not always aware of why they act as they do and are therefore powerless to some extent to change. Even though I may be understanding that one who is yelling and threatening me is operating from a place of fear (aggression is a need to self-protect from a perceived threat), I may not necessarily know the source of that fear and neither is it necessary. I only need to be understanding of their suffering and therefore compassionate that they are struggling with an unresolved issue.
R: Respect Regardless of how difficult the individual may be, it is imperative to always treat them with dignity and respect. This can be extremely challenging as it is our natural inclination to want to put others in their place when they are acting out or to get even with those who have offended us. We also tend to assign value to people based, in part, on how they treat others. Those who are disrespectful or offensive have lower worth to us than those who treat one another with dignity. However, it is not our place to judge; neither do people have to earn our esteem. Respect is defined as “to value” and the one who assigns importance to all humanity is the One who created it. All human life has equal value. Respect is a God-given birthright. To offer it is a Divine responsibility. Additionally being courteous shows the other party how to be polite as well and hopefully they will follow your example.
B: Boundaries Robert Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” In every relationship it is important to establish rules and regulations defining what is acceptable treatment and what is not. Too often, we are fearful of speaking up when someone mistreats us or treats us in a way that we find offensive or uncomfortable. “People should know how to treat one another,” we proclaim. However, respectable treatment is different for each person. What one is fine with another may find appalling. Each person must be crystal clear in their own minds how they want to be treated – what is and is not permissible – and then clearly convey that to the other party. Without verbally expressing our desires, we cannot expect that every person will treat us in a way that we find acceptable. Ideally, having boundaries in place precedes consequences. Once they are made known, one can follow up by also expressing the consequences they are prepared to enforce should the other person disregard their request.
A: Appeal Appealing to what matters to the other person , to what is important to them, is a powerful tool in gaining their cooperation. What strikes a chord within is more likely to result in an affirmative response than that which they cannot relate to. For example, one can appeal to their sense of moral values making a statement such as, “I know that it matters to you to always do what is right and fair.” Pointing to issues of right and wrong, or to what is in their best interest can also enable them to adjust their attitudes or behaviors. “Do you think that your choice is ultimately going to be good for you? I’m concerned that it may not be and you certainly deserve to be safe/happy/healthy, etc.” “How is this behavior/attitude going to benefit you?” is another powerful question that challenges the other person to reconsider their actions. “What is the more responsible thing to do? Is this a fair decision for everyone? Are you being a good role model for your children?” are all thought-provoking questions. Reach out and touch their “heart interests”, what matters most to them. Share your concern for their well-being and in doing so you may very well gain their trust and cooperation.
In dealing with those who require greater effort on our parts, it is imperative that we remove our own ego and operate from a place of spirit – kindness, concern, and equality. Remind yourself that everyone is struggling with their own unique pain and fear. It is not your place to put them in their place but rather to uplift them and assist them in creating the best scenario possible at that moment. With a little concern, a reasonable amount of patience, and the C~U~R~B Appeal Method, you’ll increase your ability to better interact with those who are typically uncooperative with others.