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The Diffi-Cult

emotional emojiis painted on balls

Everyone has that one special person in their life, the one that gets their heart beating faster, blood pressure elevated a bit more than it should be, birds chirping . . . Nope. That is something else. I’m talking about difficult people. Disagreeable people. Negative people. People that make your blood boil and make you think evil thoughts.

A word of advice - don’t be too hard on your difficult person, sometimes YOU are that difficult person to another person.

I have devised an approach, based upon our improv training, for dealing with the difficult people in my life. Especially the people that I find difficult to figure out or to maintain my cool with. It involves trying to figure out “the game of the scene.”

  1. Think about this difficult person as a character in a scene; what attribute(s) are they displaying?

  2. Who could react well to this behavior? How would that person react to this behavior? THAT is the character I will portray as I continue through the remainder of the scene.

  3. If I have accurately identified the problematic behavior, I start to ask a series of questions:

  • What else is true about a person who displays behavior like this?

  • What are the motivations? What can I do to meet their needs, or model good behavior?

  • What am I doing unintentionally or unknowingly that could have exacerbated the situation?

Based on the answers to whatever questions I come up with, I can modify my behavior and my interactions with my problem person. At the very least, I can modify how I react and feel about my interactions with my difficult person.

I suppose you could say that improv has helped me to reframe the difficult behavior of those around me so I don't stay stuck in the drama of their personal scene. It has also helped me to slow down and take the time to understand those around me who are more difficult to understand. It is not always easy (or successful) but when it works, it is very fulfilling.

Viginia "The Ninja Chinchilla" Epperly has been using her stealth improv soft skills to navigate the workplace and ComedySportz® since 2015.

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