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“How to Deal With Difficult People” Talk by Johnson

In his TEDx Talks speech titled “How to deal with difficult people”, Jay Johnson (TEDx Talks, 2018) shares some useful methods on how to talk with people that we do not like very much. He argues that the best way to deal with somebody unpleasant is by changing ourselves and our views. Such a claim may be surprising for many as it is intuitively strange as it is unclear why we should change – not those ‘difficult’ people. Johnson replies that any negative reaction towards others, as a result, hurts the person who feels bad because of stress or, in other words, “because it is your heart attack” (TEDx Talks, 2018, 4:13). For this reason, the speaker provides a number of life hacks that would help his audience to deal with problematic people.

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First of all, he suggests understanding that the situation or a person ‘objectively’ cannot be annoying or bad. Rather, it is we who label them in such a way. Johnson states that labels are the reason that makes people have negative feelings towards others. For instance, as he fairly notes, we can name a similar behavior as ‘shameless’ when it refers to a person we do not know and ‘funny’ if we talk about our friend. As a consequence, avoiding labels can help to understand other people much better.

Secondly, the speaker argues that it is important to use inclusive language when we have conflicts with others. It means that we should avoid using ‘you’ when talking about the problem and change it to ‘we’ instead. For example, instead of than saying ‘you do not listen to me’, it is better to change it to ‘I feel that we have difficulties understanding each other’. Such an approach would invite the other person to look for a solution to the problem together as it admits the fault of both people.

Finally, Johnson wants his audience to be more self-aware during conversations. On the one hand, it includes being able to look at the situation with the third person’s eyes. On the other hand, it means controlling one’s ‘fight or flight’ response. In this respect, the speaker says that humans’ body reactions usually do not differentiate between real danger, such as being chased by the tiger, and a fake one. Therefore, in such cases, it is good to let one’s body feel safe by taking a deep breath.

Reference

TEDx Talks. (2018). How to Deal with Difficult People | Jay Johnson | TEDxLivoniaCCLibrary [Video]. Web.

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