Author Topic: Advice on how to deal with difficult people  (Read 195 times)

muri

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Advice on how to deal with difficult people
« on: January 13, 2020, 01:21:53 AM »
Hello everyone!

This is my first posting here, I'd like to hear from you some advice, specifically on how to deal with difficult people on our daily lives.

I'm a learner on the practice of meditation and vipassana. I've been studying it for the past 4-5 years. I've had a truly amazing growth since I started. But I often see myself in situations where I don't really know how to respond in an "enlightened" point of view, or a correct way, so to speak. I ask myself: oh my, how would Buddha have reacted to that? Specially in day-to-day facts, or applying the practice to real life, when off the meditation session.

Recently, the universe has challenged me by putting a very difficult person into my life, for I should grow with the difficulties appearing.

Putting short: there's this colleague from work. We stay in the same room so we are always chatting, plus 5 other people. He's an extremely boasting person. He tends to boast about many aspect of his life, but also putting yours in a lower degree in comparison to his. He uses to seek small personal advantages in almost every situation, i.e., arriving at work late when boss is not, buying anything, then complaining, for not paying, or getting close to people for personal benefits. He also cheats on his fiancee recurrently when we go out and he got his job by lying about his education. In spite of that, he also have good qualities, and I truly perceive them, but I can't agree with almost anything he does or his visions on life. And that enrages me.

In the stage of learning Metta, I devoted to create a lot of compassion towards him. He seems an extremely insecure person, dealing with many problems of his own and troubles inside his mind. I know he's had some problems with depression in the recent past. I truly "forgive" him for what he is and what he does, with all my heart. I also know I must develop more detachment towards this necessity I have for him to behave in the way I want. I know I have no control over him or over anything, that's part of the impermanence of life. Summing up the good aspects he has and the good moments we have together, I understand him as great opportunity for my personal evolution. So I tend to breath, concentrate, and keep calm, as soon as he does anything stupid. It works most of the times.

But there's other times when I absolutely can't hold myself, that is when it involves him influencing others. He often start to tell lies about someone to other people, like kidding, or in a malicious joke, to diminish this person or to demoralize her. I saw him doing this several times, like when he told to a group of people about another colleague. In that situation, these new people really believed him and started to think that what he was saying was true! He finishes up by being able to influence other people, and when I see such unfairness I can't just be quiet. As soon as I saw him doing the same towards me, trying to influence other people by demoralizing me in public, I started to defend myself and cut short. Telling him in an polite way will not work, after many have tried. So I'm forced to be very harsh. My other friends can't defend themselves well, so they are easy prey to him. Unfortunately, after many things I tried, in those situations I started to answer him very harshly, specially in public, using his same technique to demoralize him, for him to create some respect on me and understand what he does to others. It's the only thing that has worked, he never did the same towards me again, for he knows I may do the same.

But it made me feel so bad, this is not me, I see this far away from being compassionate and kind. But I needed to defend myself from him manipulating my image towards others. I know I can't control even my image or what the others will think of me, for image and self are another illusion.

My question to you is, and may it help others as well: how would an enlightened being have reacted with such a work colleague?

stillpointdancer

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Re: Advice on how to deal with difficult people
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2020, 11:20:07 AM »
I think that there are two different parts to your post. The first is what can we do mindfully in such difficult situations. and the second what would we do as an enlightened being.

The first part you seem to be doing with a mixture of compassion and pragmatism. You have tried to understand why this person is behaving in certain ways, and have sensed that such behaviour is from insecurity rather than strength. On the other hand you also feel compassion for your other co-workers who are on the receiving end of this person's actions. You decided that action was needed to protect both yourself and the other people, so you could say that you acted as mindfully as you could given the circumstances. Doing nothing could have caused greater harm.

The question about how someone enlightened would have reacted is much more difficult. There is no way of knowing how enlightened people people behave, because there is, in my opinion, no pattern in the behaviour of such people. Of course, this may not apply to certain enlightened teachers, who live an example to the people they are teaching. They obviously work within the rules of their particular take on Buddhism. I'm talking of others who are enlightened, but free to follow it up in their own way.

Maybe the answer isn't to ask, 'What would Buddha do?' (after all, there are lots of opinions about that freely available on the internet), but to ask yourself, 'How can I develop my own practice so that I can do even better next time?'
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

dharma bum

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Re: Advice on how to deal with difficult people
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2020, 02:59:12 PM »
I once worked for a nasty boss and I asked myself what I ought to do? I behaved like what I thought an enlightened person would do and did nothing, but I am not an enlightened person so I was troubled by it all the time and still harbour resentments about it.

I think about what I should have done differently and came to the conclusion that I should have brought it out into the open. I should have said to the person hey, I know what you are doing here. Why are you doing this? Because these are the consequences of this action, which will ultimately come back to harm you. Ultimately I quit the job and I have reason to believe that it harmed my boss.

I read somewhere that meditation works because the mind behaves better when it knows somebody is watching it (it is yourself). So this is the principle I could have tried. People behave better when they think others know when they are behaving poorly.

You can also try talking to your coworkers about the behaviour of this person. At the least, you will make some allies and feel better about yourself.

This is just my experience. It is up to you to see if it applicable to your situation.
Mostly ignorant

Denton

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Re: Advice on how to deal with difficult people
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2020, 08:09:05 AM »
I think actually letting this situation unfold on its own would be the right thing to do. Don't let the behavior of this person bother or influence you or your behavior.

Thanisaro85

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Re: Advice on how to deal with difficult people
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2020, 10:39:47 AM »


I faced different difficulty colleagues at different workplaces, till now i still do not have a solution to some. Especially those that you need them at the next process of work, they either ignore or just don't move, and these become a obstacle in work. I had tried talking to them, trying to understand what problem they are facing, or anything i can do to help resolve the problem, normally they just ignore again. Last resort, no choice but to approach their head of department, but it seems that it don't work as well. Sometimes these things can turn ugly and it goes on for years. That is my biggest challenge in life.

Would appreciate someone in the same shoes share their experiences.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2020, 10:41:39 AM by Thanisaro85 »
A Mind Unshaken, when touches by worldy matter, sorrowless, secure and dustless, this is the ultimate great blessing~ Mangala Sutta

chin

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Re: Advice on how to deal with difficult people
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2020, 10:49:03 AM »
The idea is not to think what an enlightened person would do but rather to develop one's insight so one could see what an enlightened person would see. If you notice that you suffer in this situation and work with the hypothesis that at the root of your suffering is some delusion about how the external world should be different from what it is. The enlightened person would not suffer because they would not harbour such delusions. They would see things the way they really are, and that would eliminate any cause for suffering.

As long as you don't suffer, you are then free to do whatever needs to be done in the situation.

Of course, not that I'm really successful at doing this, but that's the theory as I understand it.

Middleway

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Re: Advice on how to deal with difficult people
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2020, 02:41:10 PM »
From the moment we wake up until we go back to deep sleep, our awareness identifies itself with something or other. This misidentification is at the root of our delusions. First state is to identify with body-mind that causes ego-self to arise. In this state we think we are separate from the rest of the world. This then becomes me and not me. Me against rest of the world. This is the primary delusion. In the state, negative emotions arise. And suffering follows. Second state is when there is no ego-self. In this state, it is like “I am everything”. Love and compassion arise in this state.

We unconsciously toggle between these two states constantly dependent on the circumstances. Re-read your post and you can notice how you are constantly moving between these two states. Notice your compassion for others and including the person of your subject. In this state there is no ego-self. Also notice your anger, frustration, self loathing etc., this is when your ego-self is in full blossom.

There is a third state where there is is no identification whatsoever with either body-mind or with everything. This is the state loosely put as “I am nothing”. I am “the body-mind” is suffering. “I am everything” is love. “I am nothing” is wisdom.

So, to answer your question, your job is to observe the body-mind constantly from moment to moment. Note and get familiarize with your mental states. Any actions you take in response to this person, take them consciously. Observe your actions and don’t judge whether they are right or wrong. Just be.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

muri

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Re: Advice on how to deal with difficult people
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2020, 01:26:55 AM »
Thank you all so much for your insights. As a student, it is very nice to see that other people struggle to hand well in some same topics that I do. I'm still digesting your replies.

I'm particularly in a conflict caused by just being the observer in such intolerance situations.

If we do nothing, it is already something: nothing. It looks like the "paradox of tolerance". We should defend against intolerance. I'm trying to comprehend what is the balance point for "the right action", from the eightfold path. I feel sometimes it's not right just to observe.

Middleway

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Re: Advice on how to deal with difficult people
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2020, 09:38:29 AM »
I'm particularly in a conflict caused by just being the observer in such intolerance situations.

If we do nothing, it is already something: nothing. It looks like the "paradox of tolerance". We should defend against intolerance. I'm trying to comprehend what is the balance point for "the right action", from the eightfold path. I feel sometimes it's not right just to observe.

You are quite right. Both actions and non-actions are actions and they will have responses / consequences. Your action (or non-action), taken from identification of body-mind, will likely have negative consequences since such actions will not be in accordance with the Dhamma. For example, you beat him up in anger, you will feel bad after and may also lose your job etc. You have already realized non-action will bring suffering.

Whatever your action is, observe your mental state. Try and act with love and compassion as you have done already. If you acted in anger and frustration, know that also and accept the consequences. Learn from it. Whatever you do, don’t judge. Don’t judge your actions. Judging is made when we are identified with body-mind. It surely will bring suffering.

Keep practicing on the cushion and then constantly observe your actions by your body-mind. That will help you learn and you will naturally take actions in accordance with the Dhamma.

Hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Middleway
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 09:42:58 AM by Middleway »
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

 

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