This week's focus is on how to manage difficult people in our lives. Well, I don't know anyone more difficult to handle than a teen, except for maybe a 3-year-old. As a mother of two teens, I can personally attest that teens can erupt suddenly, behave unexpectedly and fluctuate wildly. Here are two tips I like to share on how to approach difficult people that can reduce the tension in any situation.
The first is to lean heavily on your "I" statements. For example, last week I offered to help my teen get his school stuff packed so we could get in the car since we were running late. He responded with "God, Mom, what do you think I'm doing?!" When he finally got into the car, I calmly shared this "I" statement with him. "I was genuinely offering my help to you since we were running late. When you barked that question at me, I felt hurt."
The second is to learn how to validate someone's feelings. This means listening to what a person is saying and trying to tease out the emotion you think they are experiencing. For example, my teen said to me, "My math teacher hates me! She never helps me and I have no idea what is going on in class." I validated the statement by saying "It sounds like you are frustrated and not getting what you need."