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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Dealing with Difficult People

Robert Manni - Saturday, December 02, 2017


There are a lot of truly wonderful people in the world. But why does it seem like we’re constantly confronted by difficult and annoying people who push our buttons?

I see you nodding your head right now. It could be those subway dancers swinging their limbs around the pole right in front of your face on the A train, that person in your building who never responds to your friendly greeting, those passive aggressive colleagues who are too weak to state their opinion to your face, but somehow grow muscles while sitting behind their keyboards so they can snipe at you from the safety of a group email thread, or that sibling who from some reason only communicates with you via text. Yep, dealing with these types can be a challenge for a Guy’s Guy. So how can we begin to see these people differently and not lose our cool when dealing with their tired acts?

I’m not exactly sure why it feels like these folks show up way so often, but I do have some ideas to share with you about who and what they are, and how to deal with them. Let’s call this one, The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Dealing with Difficult People.  I’m tempted to call them assholes, but for the most part these are decent people whose choices all-too-often fall into the anal category. Again, let’s not be too harsh. Who hasn’t said or done something they later regretted? I have. Let’s dive in and explore why these people show up in the first place.

Every person is on a path of raising his or her conscious. We’re all coming from the same place, and are headed in the same direction. But this is a long, long journey and our ascensions are on different timetables. Eventually we’ll all reach “oneness” and become fully realized beings after we’ve learned our lessons, but due to a number of factors, each person’s journey varies greatly. There is little one can do to hasten the pace of someone else’s journey, besides simply leading by example. People have to learn on their own. If you do believe in reincarnation or a recycling of the soul, you’d agree it might take another person lifetimes before they reach your level of awareness. And the same could be said of you, compared to other more evolved souls. No one is better than anyone else, but every person’s journey has a different trajectory.

So, Guy’s Guy, what does all this esoteric babble have to do with those annoying people busting our chops? Actually, it’s all very relevant. Part of the soul’s journey within its the human form is to overcome the things holding back its ascension. For many of us, it feels like we’re always confronted by the same teeth-grinding circumstances and people who push our buttons. But unless we learn to overcome challenging circumstances and people’s behavior, we’ll continue to experience them over and over again.

If this sounds similar to movie Groundhog Day, you’re right. Bill Murray’s character kept reliving Nate Ryerson, the same day, and all the same experiences over and over again until he learned how to interact with them from a place of love. And that’s our collective challenge: How do we learn to address every issue and choice we make in life from a perspective of love, as opposed to fear? Fear turns to anger. Fear lashes out. Fear backstabs. Fear is dishonest. Fear is an asshole. And fear suckers us in through our ego. Ego is fear’s best friend. Our ego is constantly telling us that it wants to protect us, but in reality, ego only wants to protect itself. Fear keeps man enslaved in a recurring dream where we are continually confronted by the things and others that annoy us until we learn how to rise above the bad behavior of others without judgment. And that’s no easy task.

So how do I deal with those passive aggressive colleagues or that sibling who only communicates with me via passive aggressive texts? Tell me how to transcend the nonsense? Relax, amigo, you’re already getting upset. There are a few things you can do to make your way past those situations and people who continually upset you. Consider the following…

1. Become a witness – Last week I had my buttons pushed by some owners in my fantasy football league. Our commissioner sent out an email extending our trading deadline by a day because he’d neglected to remind us of the deadline, as he does every year. Within that short window four major trades were made. Our commish approved the deals and players switched teams. Yipee! That is, until one of our owners, who happened to be in first place by a wide margin complained. He said the rules are the rules and they could not be changed without an amendment to our league constitution. Yikes. He added that he had been too busy working to make a deal. Of course, his team was facing my team that weekend (and I am the reigning league champ). I had just traded for the number two running back in fantasy football and was primed to make playoff run as I did last year. I was steamed about his protest, but even more so when the other owners, who I think saw the powerhouse I had created, sided with him. I pushed back a few times, which only strengthened the group’s resolve. I soon found myself on the defensive, as if I had done something wrong. I eventually backed off and ironically; my team beat this willy-nilly owner’s ass by almost fifty points last weekend.

After I had an opportunity to review the situation, I came to the conclusion that I was right. These guys were not going to let me strengthen my team in such dramatic fashion. I stepped back though. It was time to learn a lesson about handling these types of situations and people. The word “witness” kept popping into my head. I needed to step back and separate myself from the situation, state my case, and then watch the others do whatever they decided. I would let it go and forgive them for the bullshit, but not necessarily trust them in the future. That’s my take. I’m sure they would disagree. But, I am the one who has to live with myself. I’m not really concerned about them or what they think about me. So although my trade was rescinded, I won the game and the day because I had been given a great gift from them by my learning how important it is to be a witness to my humanity.

2. Don’t take things too personally – As in the case above and the others that I cited earlier, when trying situations arise, it is usually about the other people, not about you. You can always win if you stay in your truth while being detached from the behavior of others.

3. State your case, and make it about choices – When things start getting personal, shift the playing field. Make the discussion about the issue. State your case clearly. If you think someone is being an asshole, it’s okay to disapprove of their decisions and their choices. Pull up, though, if you see they are making assumptions about your take on their character and taking things personally. In the case of the fantasy football trade, the owner I was challenging claimed I was questioning his integrity when I was only challenging his actions. He’s a decent guy, but I called bullshit on his actions, not on him as a person.

4. Don’t get sucked in too far that you blow your cool – I get upset when my sibling insists on only communicating with me via text messages. It’s become more of a means of relaying of information than a dialogue. It’s incredibly annoying, and on occasion I’ve been pissed off. I finally realized this relative has a personal issue he has to deal with. So when I get a text from him, I take a breath and wait before responding. It sucks that I have to do this, but if this is what I need to do to keep the peace, so be it. I look at it as an opportunity to learn patience.

5. Know when to let go I held my ground on the football trade until the passive aggressive email sniping got personal. At that point, I knew it was a no-win situation so I let it go. That weekend my team beat this ass. The following Tuesday a flurry of emails responses went out when our commish sent out possible playoff scenarios as we headed into the final week of the season. My name came up repeatedly in that thread and I’m sure the other owners were expecting some crowing on my part after my big win. But, I didn’t respond—they knew who won. No gloating necessary.

This has been long post, amigos, and hopefully you picked up a trick or two from a Guy’s Guy who has often learned about life, love and the pursuit of happiness the hard way. That’s okay though. We are here to learn.

This week’s GUY’S GUYS of the WEEK are the owners in my fantasy football league. Their questionable choices and behavior, some good, some bad, helped me get a grip on my own reality and the lessons I need to learn. Will I get into it again with them in the future? Probably, but hopefully I’ll take a different approach. 

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