Taoism offers us wise counsel to deal with awkward people, those who deprive us of our energy and who often prevent us from moving down our path. According to Laotian principles, in such cases, the best thing is to remain calm and calm, to clear negative emotions, and to remove power from those who try to deprive us of our peace.
If we look at the latest books that talk about how to develop communication skills and how to achieve success in the workplace, we can notice a recurring theme – learning how to deal with awkward people. We are aware that this topic may cause a bit of a headache, so we will first try to define those “awkward people”.
To survive on a social level in working life, we need to be able to interact with all kinds of personalities. Including with passive-aggressive and narcissistic people. They are present in almost all scenarios, they use verbal violence, they manipulate and sometimes their mere presence is disturbing.
In recent years, many publications have used Taoist doctrines when talking about how to manage such situations. First, because they teach how to deal with emotions well, and because they teach us to face abuse of power, set boundaries, and develop our communication skills.
It does not matter that the Laotian texts are hundreds of years old. His legacy is still really useful.
1. Manage awkward people without the need to fight them
According to Taoism, living is like flowing with a river. We should allow ourselves to flow without resistance so that we can enjoy harmony.
Concepts such as struggle, confrontation, or opposition are the opposite of this idea, the opposite of the concept in which we are encouraged to move forward with courage and flexibility. That is, anyone who decides to get involved in disputes and is constantly confronted with awkward people will only become more discouraged and frustrated.
Choosing a “no-fight” doesn’t mean giving up or letting others crush us. It means, above all, that we do not give power to those who do not deserve it, choosing wisdom instead of violence, and that we choose to be calm instead of opening the dams of anxiety.
2. Empty your cup of negative emotions
Usually, awkward people ruin our day with just one word or remark. It doesn’t matter how irrational their message is, for the inappropriateness of their actions always affects us. One of Tao’s recommendations to us is that the less we react, the more room we have to exercise our discretion.
So let’s try to control our disappointment as well as our negative feelings. Then when that awkward person has done his job, we have to count to ten and take a deep breath. No one has the right to ruin our day, so we empty ourselves of anger, contempt and bad wind, one at a time…
Our minds must be like an empty room where toxic winds blow from one window and leave another.
3. Be proactive, not reactive
Awkward people often make us victims. Little by little, we gather so much anger, discomfort, and frustration that we run the risk of reacting in the worst way. This is not a good thing. Sooner or later, we will regret that reaction, and we will especially regret not setting boundaries sooner.
Taoism urges us to learn to be proactive. What exactly does this mean? It means we have to learn to control things instead of just looking from the sidelines as they happen.
One of the Taoist tips teaches us that every time we see an awkward person, let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes and say the words, “it’s certainly not easy.”
This sentence can help us understand many things. “It’s certainly not easy for my coworker to have problems with everyone, that he has so little patience, and that he can’t control his emotions so much.” “It’s certainly not easy for my brother to have a hard time finding jobs, that he has debt, and also that he has such a difficult personality.”
Understanding other perspectives allows us to be prepared to better manage the situation. It makes it so that when we are ready to offer help, our help is more timely. And when we give constructive criticism, it is more specific and motivating.
4. The strength of bamboo
Sometimes it happens that the situation with awkward people reaches the limit, and we are not only worried, but we feel bent, and even completely humiliated. In these moments, the Tao urges us to imagine bamboo in our minds.
Bamboo also bends, also bamboo experiences the force of a violent wind that tries to control the bamboo and get it to power. But this never happens, as bamboo gets its strength from its flexibility. The fact that bamboo bends makes it stronger when it reacts.
We can do this too. When we feel that we have reached the limit, it is time to rise with greater force to bring about change. We do not use violence because strength is not violence. It’s the ability to respond, it’s the knowledge of how to boldly put ourselves in front of those who are trying to turn us into something we’re not – weak people.
Taoism contains great knowledge that continues to ignite our learning capacity, illuminating us with its ability to deal with the complexities of the modern world with greater wisdom.
Let us learn from this and use it whenever possible.