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How to Handle Difficult People

Take a long look at yourself before you jump to conclusions about others.

Axel Rittershaus

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Have you ever experienced a ‘difficult’ client that you could not get along with? Do you know that this might say more about you than the other person?

No matter how well you get along with other people, I’m sure you’ve met people who you simply did not like. Maybe they were difficult to handle, did not accept what you said or were never satisfied.

It’s easy for us to dislike the other person if they’re difficult to handle. It’s easy to say “What an idiot, I’ll have to find a way to avoid working with him. He drives me crazy.” This is our instinctive reaction.

Unfortunately this instinctive reaction can jeopardise your success.

If we dislike someone, chances are the reason is one of the following three issues:

1. The other person reminds us of someone we met in the past and had problems with

The person reminds you of your school teacher, a cheating friend or an unreliable former business partner – And the more you’re dealing with them, the more evidence you find for this similarity?

In this case you have to remind yourself that the person you’re dealing with now is not that person from the past.

Instead, you have to give them a chance and beware of the selective perception trap: If you allow this poor opinion to hold sway, you will always notice every situation/behavior that can be used as evidence for your preconception.

It’s like being interested in buying a red car, and all of a sudden you see red cars all over the place. This is selective perception and it’s a dangerous trap, because it might avoid getting in touch with great people!

Remind yourself: The person standing in front of you is not the one from the past!

This trap is not too hard to identify and to get rid of. The next two topics are more severe and not so easy to identify.

2. We sense an attitude, skill or belief the other person has, which we would like to have ourselves as well

We can really go crazy about other people’s behavior and the more crazy we go, the more we reveal about ourselves.

One reason might be that you would like to have some of the other person’s qualities. You’d like to be just like them – but since you don’t know how to do it, you find reasons to reject them.

For example, let’s say that you’re not as focused as you’d like to be.

If you meet someone who is extremely focused and results driven, chances are they’re much more successful than you are. Your reaction might be “This person is terrible, they’re so focused, and they doesn’t recognise the little things and opportunities around them.”

If you dislike someone, ask yourself if the major reason for your negative emotions is caused by your own dreams of having some of their skills.

If you ask this for the first time, you might immediately say “No, of course not.”

Ask yourself again  – in many cases you will find at least some desirable attributes.

How to get out of this trap? Acquire these skills! If you don’t know how, maybe this person might be the best one to ask for advice or at least to mirror.

3. We sense an attitude, skill or belief the other person has, which we possess as well but do not like about ourselves

I’m sure you might have some beliefs or attitudes you’d like to get rid of. But you don’t know how.

Let’s say you tend to prefer harmony and avoid arguments whenever possible. Now imagine that your business partner is the personification of this belief as well. He never says no, he never challenges your ideas. You are a great team, living in harmony. But whenever an employee is moaning, they’re given a raise or any kind of incentive. It makes you go crazy, because your employees utilise this weakness.

You can find dozens of reasons why partner’s behavior is bad. But these reasons are not the real cause why you are getting angry at them.

These reasons are excuses to make it easier for you to keep on going with a behavior you don’t like about yourself. They are excuses to avoid changing yourself.

Because you prefer harmony as well, you don’t dare to talk to your partner about their own behavior. You blame them, and instead of talking to them, you get more and more angry. Directing anger at yourself towards someone else.

This is very common and it’s human. But it’s like having a strap around your chest holding you back from becoming successful, or like playing golf using only one hand because you never learnt how to use both.

As soon as you identify your limiting behavior or beliefs, you can start changing them:

  1. Get aware of what you do not like
  2. Find a solution for your ‘problematic’ behavior (do not try to change the other person)
  3. Find someone else who is good in what you want to become and do not stop learning from them until you have mastered it.

Getting along

There will of course always be a few people that you just can’t get along with. But don’t let that number be any bigger than it absolutely has to be. If you meet someone you don’t like, take a look inside before you fight with them. Make absolutely sure the ‘dislike’ doesn’t comes from within. The other person might just be a mirror for you. If this is the case, you need to work on what you don’t like about yourself or what you want to learn from the other one instead of fighting an impossible battle with someone who is not your enemy.

PS: Sometimes you are fine with someone, but the other person doesn’t like you. The reason can be one of the mentioned three. Just stay calm and friendly. If they ask for your advice, help them.

Axel Rittershaus is an internationally renowned C-Level / Executive Coach & Author who started as an entrepreneur in the IT industry in 1993. He knows that success is the result of hard work and determination even more than innate talent. A master of maintaining focus and follow-through, Axel supports C-Level leaders globally in achieving goals. Axel is dedicated and passionate to see clients succeed beyond their expectations. Axel is also the president of the International Coach Federation South Africa and a multiple Two Oceans and Comrades finisher. You can follow him on twitter.

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Self Development

Listening To These 8 Audiobooks On Success Is A Better Use Of Your Long Commute

Commuting is mostly just unpaid work, unless you make an effort to learn something along the way.

John Boitnott

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Commutes are getting longer, and in some cities they’re up to two hours each way. I have a friend in Los Angeles who does this. He passes the time with audiobooks. Now that’s still a lot of time to be stuck in transit, but he doesn’t view it that way. He says it allows him plenty of time to feed his personal and professional goals.

I’ve spent years listening to literature in the car while commuting, but somewhere along the line I switched over to books on business and personal improvement. I mostly gravitated toward amazing people who built their success from scratch and who experienced tremendous hardship. It stands to reason that if you’re dealing with hardships like a long commute, it’s important to hear motivational words that can help you transcend the difficulties.

Here are eight audiobooks that will help grow your success, both personal and professional, on your next commute:

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Self Development

3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

Erik Kruger

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3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Goal setting as a concept makes perfect sense. At the most basic level you decide on the destination and then plot the way to get there. But as with many things, we like to overcomplicate that which should be simple.

Before you know it, you end up with 2 big goals in 15 different areas of your life and 100 micro goals that will help you reach your 30 big goals.

Complicating something simple. Some of the biggest obstacles to people in reaching their goals are:

  • The overestimate the effort it will take to achieve those goals
  • They want to go from 0-100km/h in the blink of an eye
  • Life is dynamic and static goals often do not make sense
  • They get so entrenched in the day to day running of things that goals get pushed aside.

What if instead of goals, we just focused on giving our best every day?

Of course, you still want to have an indication of where you are going.

But, if you are giving your 100% every day then you can forego the micro goals for a better way of calibrating your compass… using questions.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

I suggest you ask yourself these three questions regularly:

1. What does better look like?

The question at the heart of development and incremental improvement. This question allows you some creative space in which you can imagine a better future.

  • What does better health look like?
  • What does a better business look like?
  • What does better customer service look like?
  • What does better leadership look like?

By reflecting on this question, you materialise the gap between where you are and where you could be. Now, the only thing that is left is to align your daily actions with the better future you imagined.

2. What can I control?

Borrowed from Stoicism this question highlights the power of decision in your life. Epictetus said we should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”

Once you ask this of yourself regularly you will feel more in control of your life and more in control of your business.

Why?

Because your focus is solely on the things that you can influence. It restores the belief that you can actually impact the world around you in a meaningful way.

3. Was I impeccable with my actions today?

One inherent flaw with goal setting is that the goal setter often feels judged. As if we need more of that. In addition to the constant negative self-talk we have to endure we now have an additional source of judgement – whether we reached our goals or not.

As we discovered in question #2 We cannot control everything. Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

So, instead of judging yourself, commit to giving your best every single day.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win


Accountability

What I love most about these questions is that they provide a built-in layer of accountability. Use them every day.

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Self Development

To Be Successful Stay Far Away From These 7 Types of Toxic People

You need a network of talented people, not toxic personalities who undermine you.

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Surrounding yourself with prospective mentors is an excellent way to build lifelong success. When Steve Jobs founded Apple, he learned from colleagues like Steve Wozniak about what it took to build computer hardware. And he learned from early investors like Mike Markkula about what it took to build a successful company and market a product. Now imagine if Jobs had surrounded himself with toxic personalities instead. It is likely that he would not have been able to create a company that is on course to be valued at $1 trillion.

If you interact with people who demonstrate questionable behaviour, you’re more likely to model that behaviour yourself or to become stressed as a result. At the very least, you will be missing out on the opportunity to network with more successful and inspiring individuals.

This article will review seven personality types that should be eliminated from your life in order to build your most successful self. Once these people are gone, you can work on building a network of people who influence you positively.

1. Micromanagers

According to a report by NPR, micromanagement is one of the biggest factors associated with employee dissatisfaction, lowered motivation and lack of professional creativity. To be successful, you must learn to solve problems independently. Micromanaging can make it difficult to develop these skills.

Related: Keep An Eye Out For Toxic Employees

2. Short-term thinkers

If you surround yourself with short-term thinkers, it will be difficult to know if an idea is destined for long-term success. Those who are narrow-minded may be more likely to dismiss one of your ideas because it will take time to develop into a meaningful success.

Take the creation of Airbnb as an example. The company was founded in 2008. At the time the “sharing economy” did not exist, and hotel chains like Starwood and Hilton dominated the lodging market. A short-term thinker would have criticised an idea like Airbnb.

In order for the company to be successful, Airbnb would need to change people’s attitudes and expectations about travel. They would need to encourage people to be comfortable staying with strangers, and they would need to find ways to mitigate possible liability should something tragic happen during a customer’s stay.

Well-respected venture capitalists decided to pass on Airbnb because of these short-term concerns. The Airbnb founders were only able to find success once they connected with people who were comfortable thinking long term.

3. Pessimists

pessimistsPessimism is not always a bad trait; at times it can help entrepreneurs to recognize certain pitfalls that might otherwise be overlooked. However, a steady diet of pessimism is toxic when it comes to taking big professional risks.

As David Armor, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, says, “An entrepreneur starting up a company, for example, might drive himself to work 18-hour days for months and even years because he optimistically believes that there will be a big payoff for him at the end.” Conversely, a pessimistic attitude would make it difficult to tolerate such a prolonged stressful situation.

For those interested in taking on stressful professional situations, pessimistic people should be avoided in most cases.

Related: Tips on how to Survive and Thrive in a Toxic Workplace

4. Selfish people

Relationships that contribute to success are mutually beneficial. This dynamic cannot exist when dealing with selfish people. As a result, it is best to eliminate selfish people from your life in order to make room for more giving relationships.

A recent study found that a job applicant who is referred by an existing employee is 15 times more likely to be hired than someone who applies via a job board. If you befriend a selfish person, you probably can’t rely on them to introduce you to new career opportunities. However, forming connections with someone who is altruistic could give you a professional leg up.

5. Risk-averse personalities

Business success is about making informed decisions by weighing risks and rewards. If you are surrounded by people who over-index on possible risks while ignoring the possible rewards, it will be challenging to identify good business opportunities.

Take Amazon as an example. In 2014 Amazon launched a smartphone called the Fire Phone. In the end, the phone was not successful. Following the unsuccessful launch of the Fire Phone, risk-averse people might have avoided developing another piece of computer hardware.

But instead, Amazon correctly assessed the opportunity for an in-home smart speaker, and launched the Amazon Echo just one year later. Today, Echo has 75 percent of the smart-speaker market in the United States.

6. Unmotivated individuals

People who lack motivation or work ethic set a bad example for those interested in working diligently to become a professional success. There is no worse colleague than someone who simply does the bare minimum to get by.

Rather than associate yourself with people who cut corners or avoid hard work, try to surround yourself with people who are motivated to succeed. Collaborating with people who have a healthy drive for success can instill an extra dose of motivation in you.

Related: 3 Strategies for Dealing With Toxic People

7. Spendthrifts

Financial responsibility is a critically important quality to develop if you want to become successful. Warren Buffet is perhaps the supreme example of a financially responsible and successful person.

Buffet is the third wealthiest person in the world, worth nearly $80 billion. But despite his professional success, Buffet does not spend his money on flashy cars or large homes. In fact, Buffet still lives in the modest home in Omaha, Nebraska, that he purchased in 1958.

Those who associate with spendthrifts may be more motivated to make irresponsible financial decisions in order to fit in. At the very least, it will be harder to associate with people who make good financial choices, as these personalities are frequently diametrically opposed.

Conclusion

Business is all about who you know. From landing a new job to launching a new company, your network will enable or prevent future professional success. When developing a network of talented people, it is best to avoid toxic personalities who could set a bad example or demotivate you.

Be sure to avoid people who are micromanagers and short-term thinkers, as they can make it difficult to think autonomously. Risk-averse individuals or pessimists may cause you to think twice about great business ideas, and spendthrifts or selfish people may hamper your ability to grow. Last but not least, stay away from unmotivated individuals, as your success is dependent on your willingness to work diligently in order to succeed.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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