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  How to Deal With Difficult People

  In New York City one day, a businesswoman got into a taxi. Because it was rush hour and she was hurrying for a train, she suggested a route. "I've been a cabby(车夫) for 15 years!" the driver yelled. "You think I don't know the best way to go?"

  The woman tried to explain that she hadn't meant to offend him, but the driver kept yelling. She finally realized he was too upset to be reasonable. So she did the unexpected. "You know, you're right," she told him. "It must seem dumb for me to assume you don't know the best way through the city. "

  Taken aback, the driver flashed his rider a confused look in the rear-view mirror, turned down the street she wanted and got her to the train on time. "He didn't say another word the rest of the ride," she said, "until I got out and paid him. Then he thanked me. "

  When you encounter people like this cab driver, there's an irresistible urge to dig in your heels. This can lead to prolonged arguments, soured friendships, lost career opportunities and broken marriages. As a clinical psychiatrist, I've discovered one simple but extremely unlikely principle that can prevent virtually any conflict or other difficult situation from becoming a recipe for disaster.

  The key is to put yourself in the other person's shoes and look for the truth in what that person is saying. Find a way to agree. The result may surprise you.

  Sulkers Steve's 14-year-old son, Adam, had been irritable for several days. When Steve asked why, Adam snapped, "Nothing's wrong! Leave me alone!" and stalked off to his room.

  We all know people like this. When there's problem, they may sulk(生闷气) or act angry and refuse to talk.

  So what's the solution? First, Steve needs to ask himself why Adam won't talk. Maybe the boy is worried about something that happened at school. Or he might be angry at his dad but afraid to bring it up because Steve gets defensive whenever he is criticized. Steve can pursue these possibilities the next time they talk by saying, "I noticed you're upset, and I think it would help to get the problem out in the open. It may be hard because I haven't always listened very • 58 •

  well. If so, I feel bad because I love you and don't want to let you down. "

  If Adam still refuses to talk, Steve can take a different tack: "I'm concerned about what's going on with you, but we can talk things over later, when you're more in the mood. "

  This strategy allows both sides to win: Steve doesn't have to compromise on the principle that ultimately the problem needs to be talked out and resolved. Adam saves face by being allowed to withdraw for a while.

  Noisy critics. Recently, I was counselling a businessman named Frank who lends to be overbearing(专横的) when he's upset. Frank told me that I was too absent-minded with money and that he shouldn't have to pay at each of our sessions. He wanted to be billed monthly.

  I felt annoyed because it seemed Frank always had to have things his way. I explained that I had tried monthly billing, but it hadn't worked because some patients didn't pay. Frank argued that he had impeccable (无可挑剔的 ) credit and knew much more about credit and billing than I did.

  Suddenly I realized I was missing Frank's point. "You are right," I said. " I'm being defensive. We should focus on the problems in your life and not worry so much about money. "

  Frank immediately softened and began talking about what was really bothering him, which were some personal problems. The next time we met, he handed me a check for 20 sessions in advance!

  There are times, of course, when people are unreasonably abusive and you may need to just walk away from the situation. But if the problem is one that you want solved, it's important to allow the other person to keep some self-esteem. There's nearly always a grain of truth in the other person's point of view. If you acknowledge this, he or she will be less defensive and more likely to listen to you.

  Complainers. Brad is a 32-year-old Detroit chiropractor (按摩师) who recently described his frustration with a patient of his: "I ask Mr. Barry, 'How are you doing?' and he dumps out his whole life story-his family problems and his financial difficulties. I give him advice, but he ignores everything I tell him. "

  Brad needs to recognize that habitual complainers usually don't want advice. They just want someone to listen and understand. So Brad might simply say : "sounds like a rough week, It's no fun to have unpaid bills, people nagging you, and this pain besides. " The complainer will usually run out of gas and stop complaining. The secret is not to give advice. Just agreeing and validating a person's point of view will make that person feel better.

  Demanding friends. Difficult people aren't always -, angry or just complaining. Sometimes they are difficult because of the demands they place upon us. Maybe a friend puts you on the spot with a request to run an errand for him while he's out of town. If you have a crowded schedule, you may agree but end up angry and resentful. Or if you say no in the wrong way, your friend may feel hurt and unhappy. The problem is that, caught off guard, you don't know how to deal with the situation in a way that avoids bad feelings.

  One method I've found helpful is "punting". You're punting when you tell the person you need to think about the request and that you'll get back about it. Say a colleague calls and pressures me to give a lecture at his university. I've learned to say, "I'm flattered that you thought of me. Let me check my schedule, and I'll call you back. "

  This gives me time to deal with any feelings of guilt if I have to say no. Suppose I decide it is better to decline; punting allow me to plan what I will say when I call back, "I appreciate being asked," I might indicate, "but I find I'm over-committed right now. However, I hope you'll think of me in the future. "

  Responding to difficult people with patience and empathy can be tough, especially when you feel upset. But the moment you give up your need to control or be right, the other person will begin relaxing and start listening to you. The Greek philosopher Epictetus understood this when he said nearly 2, 000 years ago, "If someone criticizes you, agree at once. Mention that if only the other person knew you well, there would be more to criticize than that !"

  Real communication results from a spirit of respect for yourself and for the other person. The benefits can be amazing.

  1. The principle the writer has discovered to stop any conflict from going worse is to find a way to agree.

  2. The taxi driver thanked the businesswoman because she was very polite to him.

  3. Difficult people mentioned in the passage include those who give occasional complaints.

  4. One way to deal with the person who is unreasonably abusive is to walk away from the situation.

  5. If Mr. Barry had followed Brad's advice, he would have solved all his personal problems.

  6. What habitual complainers need is a good listener.

  7. It will end up in unhappiness whether you have satisfied your friend's request or not.

  8. You will be rewarded with a real communication if you______for others.

  9. A difficult person can become a relaxing and good conversational partner if you______

  your control.

  10. According to the author, one effective way to deal with a demanding friend is______.


  1. Y 2. N 3. N 4. Y 5. NG 6. Y 7. N 8. show respect 9. give up 10. punting


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