The Ben Franklin Plan: Avoid Difficult People

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
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In honor of Ben Franklin who focused on one virtue a month each year (plus humility, which he worked on all year round on the advice of a detractor), I’m working on one life principle each week from Sunday to Saturday. Will you join me?

This week’s life principle is simple.  We spend far too much time trying to appease, befriend, understand, or otherwise deal with difficult people long after it’s obvious they will not change.  My advice?  Don’t.

For example, you are in the process of reviewing your life, your purpose, your dreams for your future.

Some people won’t get that.  And, if they are important to you, and especially if they are part of that future, you will want them to know where you are coming from.  That’s a given.  You have every right to expect them to support you.  And most will.

There will also be others, however, who are  just fine with things the way they are.  They do not want you to change.  In fact, they may find your desire to enhance your life silly, puzzling, or even doomed to failure.  No problem.  You don’t need a cheerleader squad to succeed.  But, if these naysayers attempt to discourage, dissuade or even disarm you, they could slide into that unfortunate category of “difficult people”.   There are a million ways they can do that.  I don’t need to paint you a picture.  Sadly, we have all seen difficult people in action.

Do not engage with these people.  Blow them off.  Shine on them.  Nod and politely cross the street when they approach.   Sweetly, but swiftly, cut them off at the knees.  Metaphorically speaking.  Of course.

I had a difficult person in my life once.  Unfortunately I married him.  What can I say?  At the time I was into challenges.  Anyway, I ordered a book called “Dealing with Difficult People”.  I probably still have it.  But I have never opened it.  Not then or ever.

At the time, I was too exhausted from dealing with the difficult person to read about it.  Years later, when I spotted it on the bookshelf,  I was too delighted that I was no longer dealing with the difficult person to bother.

Besides, I knew the answer now.

If I have made a valiant effort to love, cajole, guide, understand or otherwise divert difficult people from harming me or those I love, and they continue to do whatever it is that makes them a truly difficult person, I matter of factly explain to them that they don’t get to be part of my life any longer.  And it works.

I don’t think I would have gotten so sure of how to deal with difficult people if I hadn’t been so sure that I really didn’t want to read that book.

Week 5:  Avoid difficult people

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