How I Handle Difficult Interactions


I know that over the past few weeks I’ve written a lot about relationships. It may seem a bit repetitive, but I feel that so much has happened for me personally lately that has taught me about relationships, that I feel like it’s important to share my experiences, personal discoveries, and my top tips for handling difficult interactions. Sharing is caring, and I care about you!

How to manage and navigate relationships has been a major theme of my life in 2019. Of course, we all want to cultivate healthy relationships in our homes and workplaces that bring us happiness, joy, peace, and support. However, life constantly brings us people who present challenges, create opportunities for growth, and teach us so much.

Though I love and treasure my happy, functioning, solid relationships more than I can share, I can say with one-hundred percent certainty that it has been the difficult relationships, my challenging interactions, and the heartbreaks that have provided me with the most growth. They have given me the opportunity to really fine tune how I show up in relationships moving forward.

Not to make the art of relating to other people sound trite, but every time I manage to weather another relationship storm, I feel like I’ve earned a new badge of honor. We have an experience, it challenges us, and we learn what to do next time. Every interaction is like a clue to figuring out life. It teaches us something new that we can take with us.

So, like I said, I have been presented with some challenging life circumstances this year when it comes to problematic people, and to be honest, I feel like I’ve become somewhat of a “master” at it, if I do say so myself.

I know for sure that I’m not perfect at maneuvering through these difficult moments, but lately these simple reminders have been really helping me out. If you’re struggling to work through relationship difficulties, I have mapped out some simple steps that are emotional “life savers”, for making sure I take care of myself, while living through the uncomfortable situation.

Remember it’s not personal.

This should be the real golden rule because in any interaction, if we can remember that how people treat, behave, and react to your presence is never personal, we would save ourselves from so much inner turmoil. When faced with someone who is giving you grief, remember not to make it worse by believing that it’s your fault. You are not responsible for other people’s actions. Release yourself from this, so that you can be available for real solutions to your problem at hand.

*Side note, if you’d like to read more about not taking things personally, I highly recommend The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, his words on this topic in particular have helped me immensely throughout my life.

Give your self space for response.

It’s pretty common to be in a heated circumstance with someone else and have a knee jerk, inflammatory reaction, that we ultimately regret. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sent a reactionary text, email or said something I didn’t mean, in the heat of the moment, to only make a bad situation that much worse.

When we are in a heightened state, due to uncomfortable reactions, we rarely will say the things that we mean, and we usually will say the things that will spark an inflammatory reaction in return. I’ve made it a rule for myself to give myself time and space to react and respond when presented with a challenging situation.

I often will write up what I would like to say and save it as a draft, but I will never send something or say something in the heat of the moment. The allowance for space in difficult moments gives us a chance to breath, get clear, and understand how we want to respond in a calm, aligned way.

Try to see their point of view.

The funny thing about relating to people is that we can only know so much about them, and we will never really know what it’s like to actually be them, and to live their very personal life. We all have been given such unique life circumstances, the challenges, the traumas, and the triumphs, that we all come to the table with a completely unique perspective.

With that in mind, it’s kind of easy to see how we, as these very unique humans, don’t see eye to eye all the time. The times when I’ve really done damage in a heated moment has been when I’ve forgotten the humanity of the person I was in conflict in. When I made them bad, evil and wrong and didn’t take the space to remember that they are also a human just trying to navigate through life. It’s enormously helpful to try and put yourself in their shoes, just for a moment, to gain a new perspective and a better sense of understanding.

Understand your needs and know your boundaries.

I really do believe that people are brought into our lives for reasons, and I believe that each relationship and interaction is a teacher. I wrote about this in last week’s blog, sometimes relationships aren’t meant to last forever, and that’s completely okay.

When life presents you with someone who is consistently pushing your buttons, it’s important to know where you draw the line. The very best way to come fully prepared in any kind of relationship or human interaction is, to be so fully confident and sure of your own needs, wants, and desires, and what you are and are not willing to tolerate.

Then, you will know when it’s time to make appropriate changes to a situation. People are able to manipulate and pull you into further dysfunction when you are not solid and clear within yourself. Arm yourself with healthy, strong boundaries, and clarity from within, so that you can feel a deep sense of confidence in your interactions, always.

If nothing else, I hope that you remember that we are all humans who make mistakes, get carried away, and disappoint other people. Remember to forgive yourself for your faults, make amends for where you have misstepped, and honor yourself by only permitting the people who honor you, into your life.

xo, Michelle

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