Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Art of Social Diplomacy

Being diplomatic and polite to people who don’t deserve it can be an art. There is finesse involved, as well as a large dose of restraint. I exercised my diplomatic muscles recently when I encountered my late neighbor’s relatives who came to her apartment to go through and collect her belongings. She mentioned them once to me before when I first met her a year ago, and from what she told me I knew they were not close and never saw her. I also realized how rude they were when they asked me impertinent questions about my neighbor and her cat. They actually wanted me to be responsible for the latter, which I firmly declined. I also refused to trap him for them, which I thought was odd and distasteful of them to ask me for.

Some people would have expressed their feelings of being insulted directly, but I decided not to; I still stood my ground so they knew not to ask me similar questions again. I knew I would probably never see them again, and this helped guide me during our short exchange. I pitied my late neighbor for having such disagreeable relatives, but I am glad she is at peace now and will never have to deal with them again.

The fact is most of us encounter unpleasant people in our lives on a daily basis. Effective coping mechanisms vary due to personal circumstances and the person(s) involved. For example, dealing with a difficult relative is different from dealing with someone who swipes the parking space you were waiting for. I heard on the news recently of a man accused of a road rage incident where he actually knocked down another woman with his own hands, causing her to be in a coma for a week. I don’t understand being so angry about a minor incident with my car that I would actually cause physical harm by force, and on purpose.

What are your thoughts on dealing with difficult people? Do you vary your strategies diplomatically, or do you handle each situation the same?

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