My Own Hell of Dealing with “Difficult Dave”

One of my firsts jobs out of college, fresh as a daisy, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and a little naïve, if I’m being honest. I was starting my gig at a Fortune 500 company, thinking I was about to conquer the world. Enter “Difficult Dave.” Not his real name, of course, but that’s what we’ll call him, for the sake of storytelling.

Difficult Dave was a piece of work. He could turn a sunshine-filled day into a dreary storm with just a sentence. I’d walk into the office, ready to slay the day, and BAM! Dave would drop a passive-aggressive bomb that would detonate my motivation.

For a while, I believed the issue was solely with Dave. Dave’s attitude. Dave’s words. Dave’s actions. And believe me, it’s easy to blame someone else for the shitty vibes, especially when they seem hell-bent on being a pain in the ass. But here’s the kicker – it wasn’t all about Dave. Nope. It was about my reactions, my inability to deal with his sour disposition. After all, we can’t control other people’s actions, but we sure as hell can control how we respond.

It took me a while (and a few hair-pulling moments) to realize this. Instead of trying to change Dave, I had to shift how I perceived his antics. Sounds counterintuitive, right? But hang on, I promise it’ll make sense.

That’s the little nugget of wisdom I want to share with you today: dealing with difficult people is a two-way street. You can’t change how they act, but you sure can change how you react. It’s all about gaining a new perspective and altering your response to the bullshit. And trust me, once you get a handle on this, the Daves of the world won’t stand a chance against you.

It’s All About Feeling Valued: The Shit We Don’t Often Talk About

Alright, buckle up, because we’re about to delve into some deep shit. What’s the one thing we all want in our lives, whether it’s from our bosses, our peers, our family, or friends? It’s not the six-figure salary, the fancy job title, or even the corner office with the killer view. It’s to feel valued. It’s this core emotional need that guides how we react to situations and people.

Now, let’s add another layer of complexity to this. Picture this: your boss is the difficult person. That’s right, the person holding the strings of your paycheck, the person responsible for your growth in the company, is the one giving you grief. The power dynamic in this scenario can make it even more challenging. Been there, done that, didn’t get a t-shirt but sure got a whole lot of stress.

You see, we have this misconception in our society that power corrupts people, that it turns good ol’ Joes and Janes into tyrants. But here’s the reality check: it’s not the power, but the insecurity that does the damage. When people feel threatened, when their value is in question, they may resort to behavior that, let’s just say, isn’t part of the ‘Employee of the Month’ criteria.

The difficult people in our lives are often those who don’t feel valued, whether it’s Dave from accounting or your boss in the corner office. They project their insecurities onto others, creating a hostile environment that’s about as pleasant as a root canal.

So, where does this leave us, the victims of their insecurity? Well, it all comes back to that golden nugget I mentioned earlier: you can’t change others, but you can change your response. When you understand the root cause of their behavior, you can adjust your reactions accordingly. It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it provides a perspective that might just save you from wanting to pull your hair out.

Victim or Victor? Your Pick, My Friend.

Alright, let’s dive into the next pile of corporate BS – the victim mentality. Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about. It’s easy to slip into the role of the innocent, persecuted victim when dealing with difficult people. “Why is Dave always such an ass to me?” “Why can’t my boss see my worth?” Ring any bells?

But let me tell you something straight up: playing the victim might give you a bit of comfort in the short run, but it’s like drinking tequila – it feels good at first, then comes the godawful hangover. You’re giving away your power, allowing others to dictate your feelings and reactions. It’s like handing over your car keys to a five-year-old – it ain’t gonna end well, trust me.

Here’s the wake-up call: playing the victim disempowers you. Every time you point a finger at Dave or your boss or whoever, you’re surrendering your control over the situation. You’re saying, “Here, you take the wheel of my emotions while I sit back and complain about the ride.” Sounds fun, right? Hell no.

Now here’s the kicker – the big, glorious revelation: You can’t change others, but you can sure as hell change yourself. You can choose how you react, how you let others’ behaviors affect you. You can decide to step out of the victim role and step into the victor role.

It’s like this – you can’t stop Dave from being an ass, but you can stop letting his ass-ness affect your day. You can’t magically transform your boss into a benevolent leader, but you can choose to respond to their behavior in a way that maintains your sense of self-worth.

Being the victor means taking control of your reactions, reclaiming your power, and showing the Daves and tyrant bosses of the world that you won’t be pushed around. It means understanding that their behavior is a reflection of their issues, not yours.

Is this easy to do? Hell no. Is it worth it? Hell yes. So next time you’re faced with a difficult person, ask yourself: Will I be the victim or the victor? Because, my friend, the choice is entirely yours.

A Tale of Three Lenses: See the Bullshit, Change the Bullshit

Alright folks, grab your gear, we’re going on a little trip – a journey through the Three Lenses of Perspective. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all metaphysical on you. These lenses aren’t some hocus pocus bullshit, but practical ways of seeing the world that’ll change how you deal with difficult people. So, buckle up!

First stop: The Land of Realistic Optimism. This isn’t about painting rainbows on your problems or playing the Pollyanna ‘glad game’. Nah, realistic optimism is about separating facts from the narratives we spin around them. It’s about looking at a situation and asking, “What’s actually happening here?”

Let’s say Dave snapped at you during a meeting. The fact? Dave was a jerk. The narrative you spun? “Dave hates me, everyone thinks I’m a failure, I’m doomed!” See the difference? One is a fact, the other is a catastrophe of your own making. Realistic optimism is about acknowledging the fact (“Dave was a jerk”) and creating a narrative that doesn’t lead you down the path of despair.

Next, we move to the Reverse Lens. This is where we try and see the world from the other person’s perspective. Yeah, I know it’s hard, especially when the ‘other person’ is Dave or your tyrant boss. But stick with me here. Understanding their perspective doesn’t mean condoning their behavior. It simply means you’re trying to see what’s driving them, what’s causing them to act the way they do.

Remember, everyone’s fighting a battle you know nothing about, including Dave. Understanding his perspective might not turn him into your BFF, but it’ll help you navigate your interactions with him better.

Finally, we arrive at the Long Lens. This is the view from 30,000 feet. It’s about seeing the bigger picture, about realizing that this difficult situation is but a blip on your life’s radar. It’s about understanding that, in the grand scheme of things, Dave’s ass-ness is as significant as a grain of sand in the Sahara.

More importantly, the Long Lens is about learning from the experience. It’s about asking yourself, “What can I learn from dealing with Dave?” Maybe it’s patience, maybe it’s resilience, or maybe it’s simply realizing that you’ve got more grit than you ever gave yourself credit for.

So there you have it, the Three Lenses of Perspective. Use them wisely, and they’ll transform the way you deal with difficult people, turning a dreaded experience into a tool for personal growth. And that, my friends, is no bullshit.

Embrace the Bullshit, Change the Game

Well, we’ve ridden this all the way to the end, folks. We’ve dove into the dirty pits of feeling undervalued, called out the seductive allure of the victim role, and navigated our way through the bullshit using our shiny new lenses of perspective.

Let’s not beat around the bush here – dealing with difficult people is a pain in the ass. But remember, it’s not about changing them – because let’s face it, changing people is like trying to herd cats. It’s about changing how we react and respond. It’s about understanding that our emotions and reactions are in our control, not in the hands of Difficult Dave or Tyrannical Tina.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this is easy. Hell, it’s hard as nails. But it’s also rewarding. Because when you start to change how you deal with the Daves and the Tinas of the world, you start to grow. You become more resilient, more understanding, more in control. You start to see the bullshit for what it is, and you learn how to navigate it.

So here’s my call to all you budding entrepreneurs and future business leaders out there. Embrace the bullshit. Welcome it with open arms, because it’s in dealing with this crap that we grow the most. It’s where we learn to empathize, to change our perspectives, and to control our own reactions.

The world of business is full of difficult people. But remember, the power isn’t in their hands, it’s in yours. So transform your perspective, arm yourself with understanding, and conquer the business world, one difficult person at a time.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.