Let’s face it, some people are difficult to say the least if not down-right unpleasant to be around.
Of course, some people might see you and me as this person as well; such is life.
Some of these people might even be family or close to our inner-circle or peers at work.
In such instances, it might not be possible to block them from your life completely.
So, what is one to do in these circumstances to navigate the darkness of others?
I won’t profess to have the perfect answer, yet here is some food for thought on this topic.
One action or behaviour does not reflect the entirety of the person. We all have quirks and quarks and even if this might be annoying to some, it does not reflect who we are as human beings.
You might not be able to control what others do and say, yet you can control how you respond or better yet, don’t respond to their quirks and quarks.
Sometimes saying and doing nothing and letting the moment pass without it overtaking your emotions is better than feeding into the situation.
I have learned that I can listen and maybe even help, be empathetic and offer an olive branch, yet I can’t and don’t try to change who a person is.
I also appreciate when others don’t try and change me either, yet constructive feedback, even when difficult can be helpful.
In instances whereby I had to deal with certain negative behaviours in a work setting, I know there is no “silver bullet.”
My engagement or intervention might not work, yet for me, even a step in a positive direction is a success. And sometimes I must try 6 different approaches before something clicks.
For me, people are usually worth my time, effort, and energy; I don’t give up and I remain persistent.
No matter what a person did in the past, it is in the past, we have a choice to spend as much or as little time on the past as necessary.
How much time do you want to spend on the past that will help the present and/or the future?
The future, as I often say, is unwritten.
I personally like to focus more on the future and what I can influence than on the past which I can do nothing about.
In this case, direct conversations and candor can be invaluable.
Understand that behaviour change takes time, even years, there is no such thing as “one and done.”
One meeting, one intervention, one piece of advice and guidance won’t be sufficient.
Personally, I have worked on some of my own behaviours over the years and can attest, some of my major challenges took a decade to revise and I am better off for it.
One of the most important tools I have learned from a decade in leadership is to prepare.
Leadership is a discipline, and for me, ad-hoc is not a way to proceed. I always prepare for necessary conversations.
Another valuable lesson I have learned is not to feed into exaggerations and falsehoods.
Sometimes, people say things in the heat of the moment, they don’t always mean what they say; don’t take it personally.
Know yourself and know your truth.
What I have learned to do is simply ask myself if what is being said is true backed with substantial evidence and with substantial examples, or not? If not true with no evidence, I choose not to let it negatively impact me.
Lastly, sometimes, yes, you have to walk away.
If the darkness is so strong and powerful and impacting you such that your physical and mental health will be seriously compromised, if you can, it might be best to walk away.
A defense against the darkness of others.