Looking at difficult people from a strength perspective

"I find it difficult to deal with him, I find him rude and inconsiderate. And yet, other people seem to get along fine with him… so, why do I find his behaviour so challenging?"

Each one of us interprets the actions and behaviors of others based on our personal and unique value systems. These values determine which types of behaviors, events, situations, or people are desirable or undesirable. When the actions of others match our internalized values, the behavior is viewed as desirable, strengthening respect, trust, team cohesion, and productivity. However, disparities can create misunderstandings that have the potential to increase feelings of resentment and damage relationships.


So, the way we think about other people affects how we respond to them. The more we focus on the faults of others, the more likely it is that we will find their behavior to be undesirable.


Frequently, the best place to start when addressing difficult behavior is with ourselves. While we cannot control the actions of other people, we can control – and change – how we view them.

If we focus on the positive aspects of the person and their behavior, we won’t be so frustrated by the less desirable factors.


By increasing our awareness of negative black and white thinking patterns about a particular person, we can begin to positively reframe those behaviors in a gentle, honest, and accurate way that offers a fresh perspective and lead to more positive interpersonal relationships, in other words, we reframe the behaviour of others by adopting a strength’s perspective.

As an example, a person that I find rude and inconsiderate, seen with a positive spin would be that that person might be honest and upfront.

And so, a key question to ask yourself is What could you gain from changing the way you view this person and their behavior?


As a conclusion, our beliefs and attitude towards others have a direct effect on whether we view someone as difficult. Most people are not simply good or bad; yet, we often pay attention only to the information that supports what we already think about that person. However, we can choose to view the behavior of others as a strength and learn to approach those we find challenging more positively.

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