Dealing with difficult people. Do I have to?

My absolute worst thing in the world is dealing with difficult people. I literally hate it, because I am extremely non confrontational and whenever I am obligated to directly disagree with people my pattern has been to run and avoid at all costs.

Before I dive into my worst day ever, I think I have to define what I mean by difficult people. I think every one might have a different perception of what a difficult person is. For me, a difficult person is someone who’s first instinct is to always deny, deflect, project, judge, control, condescend, mimic and minimize other people during communication. People who do not have the capacity to admit when they are wrong and those who consistently come from their ego.

Apart from being a relationship coach I also teach English as a foreign language to small children on occasion. One particular family I work for have a really cute little girl. She reminds me a lot of my girl at that age. Sweet as a muffin, with puffy little cheeks, big brown eyes, a bob of a hair cut and a smile that just lights up the room. She’s 3 years old and we have a great time together. I do creative play with her in the english language and she loves it, as well as me. Our sessions together often pass very quickly which is why I am rather upset that I recently chose to let this family go. The little girls mother however, is a whole other story.

I have an instinct when it comes to people, a feeling from the very moment I meet someone. When I talk to them for a few minutes, I get a feeling at the pit of my stomach, sometimes its a full easy going feeling, other times, its a knot. When the knot comes in I start to get nervous. I know that this persons energy is negative, or that something isn’t right. With this particular mother, I got the knot! I chose to ignore it because its work and I thought to myself, I cannot go around avoiding all people I don’t like or I get a weird feeling about. I need to give her a chance. Fare enough I thought and started lessons with her daughter. Up until yesterday, I didn’t really have any serious issues with this woman, I did my work, I am very conscientious and accommodating. I charge 15 euros/hour. Not a large amount. Our agreement is that she pays me every Friday which I was fine with. In the last couple of weeks however, she forgot to pay me.

This takes me back to my avoidance patterns and being non confrontational. Never would I ask directly, “you owe me 50$ and you only gave me half.” I just find it incredibly difficult to do so. So, what I did was I decided to send her a message. Thank God for Whatsapp! I wrote, “You owe me for 6 lessons and only paid me for half of them. You owe me another 45euros, thank you.” Her reply was, “You’re wrong, I don’t owe you that, you’ve made a mistake but I’ll pay you anyway, and the next time I pay you, I will make you sign a paper just so you can better remember your payments.” When I read this I felt like someone had just punched me in the stomach and my breathe caught for a few seconds. What came to my mind in that split second is to say “f@$K you lady!” Of course, I didn’t write that, but I thought it. How dare she, what are we exchanging here, property? And what am I ? A child? I knew this woman had made a mistake and I also knew that she didn’t want to admit it.

I don’t think its generally a problem to have discrepancies when it comes to payments and money, it can happen, but when I am an honest person and they know this, then at least have the courage to admit you’re wrong. What bothered me most about this incident was not the fact that she forgot to pay me, but because she didn’t believe me, insinuating that I am taking advantage of her and lying, then telling me off like some kind of child. What bothered me is that she projected her insecurities on to me. She made an assumption about me and my character when I have never given her evidence of such behavior.

Then and there I decided to drop her as a client. For my own well being I decided arguing about 15 euros/ hour is simply not worth my emotional well being. Providing a service for someone who doesn’t trust my judgement and gas lights me is not a person I want to associate myself with. I’ve worked with people like her before, narcissists who make you feel like you’ve done something wrong, make you second guess yourself, and who gas light. Around these people I shut down, I become really quiet and afraid. Around these people I make myself small and I don’t want to do that anymore.

The lesson I learned here, is I choose not to deal with difficult people, and when I am around emotionally clear people who have a level of awareness about themselves, who are kind, mindful, generous and show empathy, I am better able to speak my truth and confront them, because its not that I cannot confront people, its actually that I don’t feel safe enough with certain types of people to do so. This for me is a profound realization.

So, my conclusions are that NO, I don’t have to deal with difficult people and neither do you because our emotional wellbeing is more important. I choose to surround myself with like minded folk who project compassion and understanding and if I should come across a difficult person again, I ‘ll just politely remove myself from their presence.

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