What to do with difficult people at parties

First off – thanks to Jezebel for mentioning my article that appeared in the New York Times Thursday by Lisa Belkin. I love it because it is “anti Valentines Day! And to the Business Journal for posting a great article on how to deal with difficult people at work.

The press is wonderful, but it does mean that people “test” me for answers and solutions. We were at a party and there was a very loud, obnoxious   woman sitting next to me at the dinner table. It was made clear that her views were opposite of the six other people dining. The lovely hostess even pulled me in the kitchen to ask for my advice to manage this combination steamroller, know it all, whiner difficult person.

I decided to tell the difficult woman to please lower her voice because, for me, yelling and using a loud, high pitched voice only made me not want to listen to her. And asked, “Do you want me to hear your views?” So she did lower her wine induced volume. Notice I spoke only for myself and not for the rest of the table.

I also mentioned that starting every sentence, as she was, with a “But…” positioned her message in a way that turned me off because she was immediately discounting what I had just said. So at least she stopped the But Habit. I applied a lesson on how to handle difficult people that I constantly talk about in my presentations.

The shame is the other couple got up and went home to the dismay of our wonderful hostess. Here are my considerations after this evening:

1. Sit and say nothing and let her yabber on. Keep drinking wine.

2. Do as I did – just earlier. (Good choice, but not the best)

3. Ask if we can continue this conversation over dessert in the living room. (I think this is the best choice and I learned a valuable lesson on dealing with difficult people.)

Lesson here: when you don’t get the exact outcome you want – evaluate afterwords and have a new approach in your bag of tricks. My motto: if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me! And to quote Babe Ruth Babe the Philosopher – if you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got. Marsha

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