Dealing with difficult people is hard enough without the added complication of them being family. Like it or not family is for life, which is why it is so important to handle difficult family members effectively. You don’t want to cause a huge feud, but you also don’t want to continually have to bite your tongue when something comes up. Below are some tips on how to deal with difficult family members in a way that won’t make family reunions a war zone.
For Somewhat Difficult Family Members
Often the offending family member doesn’t realize they are being difficult. Save everyone unnecessary frustrations and try the below tips.
1.) Talk to Them Privately
You will want to talk to the offending party in private to keep them from getting defensive out of embarrassment. Try to arrange a time where you won’t get interrupted and be in a place neither will feel cornered. Explain the issue and why it is so bothersome to you.
2.) Arrange Some Kind of Reminder System
If they agree to work on their difficult behavior developing some sort of code to use as a reminder can really help provide almost instantaneous feedback without much fuss and embarrassment.
3.) Thank Them for Their Efforts
Be sure to thank them for any improvements they make. Otherwise they’ll being to feel as if you don’t appreciate their efforts to keep a harmonious environment for others. Also, don’t expect them to be perfect all the time. They are still the same person, so be thankful for even small improvements.
This technique works best when the problem is over the treatment of a certain subject or a disregard of others opinions. If conflict is arising over differences in beliefs, it can be easier to just agree to disagree and refrain from discussing or commenting on the subject when it arises. If other family members try to bring it up to cause drama (and entertainment for them), simply state that you both have agreed to disagree and are leaving it at that.
Dealing with Family Members Who are Just Generally Difficult
In many cases no amount of talking will bring peace to family gatherings. In those situations the adjustment must be made within yourself. Below are some tips for dealing with difficult family members who will never change.
1.) Smile and Don’t Engage
Remember when you were little and your siblings or friend’s siblings would bug you as long as it elicited a reaction. The same goes for difficult people. Many people are difficult because they want attention, are bored, or are uncomfortable; don’t let them get to you. Their difficult behavior may diminish over with this technique, or it might not. Don’t worry about it either way.
2.) Don’t Dwell On It
It is not your responsibility to ensure everything runs harmoniously. The only thing you can control is yourself, so don’t dwell on the actions of difficult family members. Focusing on events past will only make you more aggravated and/or depressed. Everyone is responsible for their own actions, so let it go when someone causes problems in family gatherings and no amount of effort has changed their behavior.
3.) Accept Them As They Are
Realize that you probably are considered difficult in some ways as well since everyone has different ideas on what is agreeable. Remember at the end of the day they are family. Like everyone they have good and bad traits. When those bad traits start grating on your nerves remind yourself of their good ones and just accept them. Accepting the person as they are doesn’t mean you agree with their beliefs of behavior, it just means you respect them for their individuality.
At the end of the day, no matter what you do, the only thing you can control is how you react to things. When you are faced with the problem of how to deal with difficult family members you can try to change them if it is a little thing and they are open to compromise, but if you can’t, let it go. Think of any difficult interactions as fodder for crazy family stories you can share with your good friends.