Dealing With Difficult People

Are you a logical animal? What I mean is: are you the kind of person who contemplates things logically and answers questions from that standpoint? Are you inclined to present facts in support of your conclusions? If so, then that’s logic. Perhaps, on the other hand, you are the kind of person that tends to prefer to trust your gut feeling? If so, then that’s intuitive thinking.

As human beings, we are all capable of thinking in both ways; logically (yes, even the females) and intuitively (yes, even the males). By the way, that was just a little joke, but it was not meant to be sexist in any way. Culturally, we do like to think of women as more intuitive don’t we? We talk about feminine intuition, for example. And we also like to think of males as more logical. But there most certainly are logical females, just as there are intuitive males.

As I said, we can all think logically and we can also all think intuitively. Personally, I have come to recognise that I have a very powerful intuition, but my professional training taught me how to think and operate logically and I have noticed that most people who know me well tend to think of me as a logical person. It is only much later in life that I have learned to really begin to trust my own intuition.

The way we take information in about the world and also the way we tend to make decisions are both conditioned by this preference for logic or intuition, so it is a very good idea to get to understand your own preferences. By the way, although you can do both styles of thinking, you will definitely have a preference; a thinking-style habit, if you prefer. This preference is one of the things that would be measured in a Myers Briggs assessment, along with three other dimensions of preference.

Staying with just this one dimension of thinking (logical versus intuitive preference), we can improve our ability to communicate significantly when we are able to correctly assess the preference of the other person in a dialogue. If we are matched up, so to speak, then our arguments are more likely to make complete sense to the other person. It is when we are not matched up, in situations where logic meets intuition, that we find the greatest difficulty understanding people.

Logical arguments are not likely to impress people who’s preference is for intuition. Such people are much more likely to dismiss hard evidence, including facts and figures and be more likely to respond to the kind of language that speaks from the heart (or gut if you prefer). Similarly, people who habitually use this mode of expression can have an equally tough time dealing with people who are engaged with the analysis of a situation because they will be equally inclined to dismiss hunches and feelings as speculation.

So here we have an important key to improving our communications with others. Firstly, knowing yourself and your own preference is very important because that’s how you would naturally go about dealing with other people and, of course, that’s also how you would prefer others to deal with you. Second, the ability to recognise the applied thinking-styles of other people and how they choose to express their ideas is equally important. Thirdly, learning how to express your own thoughts in the opposite style is vital if you are to really communicate with those people who never seem to understand your views.

Is it an easy thing to learn how to express your thoughts in the style that is not your natural preference? Well, I think that we all have the basic ability to do it since we are essentially talking about the mechanics of the brain. You may have a strong preference, but that does not mean you cannot draw upon that vast internal resource to choose to express your thoughts in other terms. I also think that you can get better at this by practice. So I would like to suggest that this is something you might like to try for a little while.

Firstly, you need to assess your own thinking preference. I don’t think it is necessary to sit a Myers Briggs test to arrive at an understanding. With a little introspection, I believe you can answer the question of whether you have a logical or intuitive preference for yourself. Once you understand this, be prepared to try something different the next time you feel you are experiencing difficulty getting your views through to another person.

If you find yourself having a difficult conversation, ask yourself the question: is this person using logical or intuitive language? If the other person is using language that signals they are using the opposite style, then that could indeed be the real problem. You should relish situations like these because that’s when you get your opportunity to try your new approach by making a deliberate attempt to switch over to the opposite style. In addition to adjusting your thinking style, you can also try adjusting your communication style.

Over the course of time, if you commit to this approach, you will get more and more practiced and you will begin to get on with people you previously thought were just difficult people. And you can have a lot of fun with the idea too, so do remember to give it a try.

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