Caring for others is an incredibly challenging position. Patients and their families are often under a lot of stress, as they are dealing with the cycle of life and becoming increasingly dependent on others. You may also have colleagues who are very particular in their ways of doing things, or whose patience has been worn thin by the demands of the job. 

The bottom line? Chances are, you are going to be surrounded by difficult people in your position. Keep in mind the following tips so that you can handle these individuals in a healthy and productive way. 

Practice Empathy

You never know what someone is going through. Remember that everyone is unique and that some people deal with stress very differently than others. If someone is constantly losing their temper at you over the smallest things, it may be because they have physical pain that you cannot see, or because they are dealing with a tough personal issue you know nothing about. 

Try not to internalize how someone might make you feel, but instead be open minded and compassionate. People often mirror one another’s responses; if someone is angry but you respond in a calm manner, it will likely help them relax as well. Otherwise, you risk escalating an already tense situation. 

Just Listen 

Many times, people just want someone to listen to them. We all have stress in our lives, but when we don’t deal with it appropriately it can be misguided toward others. Letting patients and colleagues know that you are available for them to voice their grievances can help them effectively deal with some of their personal issues and, hopefully, see things a little more clearly. 

It’s also important to practice “active listening” techniques when someone is speaking. Maintaining eye contact, nodding and acknowledging someone’s statements can go a long way in making an individual feel heard and respected.

Have a Healthy Outlet

Sometimes, no matter what you do, there will be a person who is hell-bent on making your job incredibly difficult. Maybe they are constantly in a bad mood, exceedingly demanding, or otherwise impossible to be around—regardless of the matter, it’s important to your own wellbeing that you have a healthy way to deal with the stress. 

This is incredibly important for anyone with a demanding job. Make sure that you get enough exercise and fresh air. Meditation can also work wonders for clearing your mind and improving your perspective. Remember, you can’t care for others unless you care for yourself first.  

One Final Word

There are always going to be difficult people in this world. You might not be able to change them, but you do have control over how you react to them. Keeping a calm demeanor and continually showing respect to others—as well as yourself—will make a world of difference.