Return to Sender: A Trick for Working with Difficult People

Return to Sender: A Trick for Working with Difficult People
Photo by Kristina Tripkovic / Unsplash

Here’s a juicy yet challenging topic for you - dealing with difficult people. It’s relatable to everyone because we all have to deal with difficult people at some point in our lives. And the funny thing is, they might not even be a difficult person, but the way the two of us clash makes it difficult.

I would be tempted to call out that there are a lot of difficult people in the creative industries, however I've worked in several different verticals and I've found that on every team it's not hard for someone to stick out as being difficult to work with.

Now the reason I bring this topic up today is I have a technique for you to try out. In the moment of dealing with a difficult person, there’s not much you can do about it. You are basically watching a movie.

Don’t feel like you need hostage negotiation-quality skills to handle the person in question. The real magic happens after the fact when you’re left ruminating about what to do about it.

My trick is called Return to Sender. You tell yourself that you are not willing to take this person’s garbage or baggage on, and you politely tell the universe that you would like to send the package back to the sender for them to deal with it themselves.

I suggest a similar technique for dealing with the stress of doing creative work. When it’s time to play music or write, it’s common to be overcome with a blanket of anxiety that tells you that you’re not good enough or smart enough (The Resistance).

Try to find the source of the anxiety and politely ask to return it to the sender. If you can’t identify the source of the anxiety, then just return it to the general post office which is the universe.