Post-COVID Ramp Up Series—Pearls of Wisdom: The Truth About Difficult People

It’s been a year. We are ready to be done with COVID and its ever-changing impact on business and personal lives. Mingled with the infamous American optimism, folks are cranky, frustrated, scared, and angry.

Foundational Truth
Life is smoother if we accept this Foundational Truth about difficult people:

  • Difficult people are all around us.
  • Sometimes it’s them.
  • Sometimes it’s us.

Difficult people are irritants. They can help us make pearls.” Mother Beba said this when we came across difficult people. During COVID, we’ve all taken turns creating and harvesting a long string of pearls. These pearls of wisdom are priceless as we create post-COVID business strategies.

Thank heavens for difficult people! They are excellent tutors. Without them we could not hone our mindset, habits, and communication skills. We would not understand ourselves or others.

Bottom line. We can choose to cultivate pearls… or throw away our power and remain irritated.

Red Shoe Story
When the Gurri family left Cuba for the USA with one suitcase and $5 per person, mother Beba wore impractical red shoes as a sign of strength. Shortly after arriving in the USA, a woman walked up to Beba, pointed to her red shoes, and said something unkind. Beba stiffened in anger, then quickly relaxed and, in her beautiful accent proudly said, “Jes! I can dance!”

For four-year-old Margarita, those red shoes magically transformed the power of conflict into leadership with courage, humor, and grace. The Red Shoe Attitude was born. It’s about choosing happiness, inviting excellence, and owning our power.

Personal Power
What gets you steamed?

Personal power comes from paying attention to and knowing ourselves, others, and the contexts in which we find ourselves. Noticing is simple, not easy. It can be painful and upsetting.

Self-awareness is that gift that keeps on giving. In any organization, knowing ourselves and our teams is vital to our mission and to our bottom line.

Be brave. Take a hot minute. Do a core dump of the things bothering you right now. Is the list longer than anticipated? Think of a difficult person you encountered recently.

Then ask yourself:

  • What sets me off about them? Why? How do I react?
  • An even more important question is, How do I contribute in any way to this person being difficult or seeming to be difficult?

Three Steps Bring Out the Best In Anyone!
Manage difficult people, situations, and conversations by taking three steps.

  • The First Step
    Start with empathy, understanding, and a generous sense of humor. Free of harsh judgements, we can dive into the task of understanding what makes people tick. Identify what they do and how, how they think, and how they feel. Explore the upside of each difficult person to bring out their best.
  • The Second Step
    Learn what to do and say. Stay tuned for more articles to learn how.
  • The Third Step
    Practice daily. Luckily, difficult people are everywhere. Be brave. Be kind.

Up Your Game as a Leader
The next time you face a difficult person or do a great impersonation of one, get excited. This is a great opportunity to step up in your ruby reds to make a difference in this world. Go forth and make us all proud!

Stay curious, graciously let the difficult person save face and figure out how to channel the spirit behind the difficult behavior to create a positive impact.

Eleanor Roosevelt had the Red Shoe Attitude: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” So, stand up in your ruby reds and make it a Red Shoe day!

© 2021 Dr. Red Shoe.
Dr. Red Shoe solves people problems so leaders and teams can create productive workplace cultures, build vibrant teams, and promote ethical leadership.
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