Every person has distinct thought and behavioural patterns that are often defined as their personality traits. One such trait is stubbornness. It is marked by the unwillingness to change one’s opinion or decision. Such people are often rigidly attached to their own beliefs, ideas and opinions. This can make them inconsiderate of others’ feelings. They easily get threatened by anyone, who disagrees with them or their ideas.
This trait can become overwhelming, when triggered by certain situations. Sometimes, hidden feelings of aggression are the cause of stubborn behaviour. The unwavering urge to possess or want something can turn into stubbornness by being obstinate about it. And opinions of others, even when more logical, do not matter in such situations. The feeling of being inferior or weak is masked by the trait of stubbornness. This helps them to hide their vulnerable side from others.
From loud outbursts to imposing their opinion on others, stubbornness can become visibly distressing. In extreme cases, it can hamper one’s daily life and overall growth and development.
We encounter such people everywhere, and communicating with them can sometimes become frustrating and exhausting. It can get even more difficult if it’s your partner. However, there are some easy ways to deal with them.
Dr Ishita Mukerji, senior psychologist at Kaleidoscope, a mental wellness centre mentions eight ways to interact with stubborn people, and bring them on the same page as yours:
1. Be gentle and slow: Progress slowly in a conversation. Give time and be patient, to help a rigid mind open up.
2. Break the conversation into parts: Ensure that the conversation is broken down into small parts. This helps the other to understand your perspective.
3. Wait for the right time: Gauge the other person’s mood before you start a conversation.
4. Ask them the reason for their stubbornness: Politely ask them for a reason for their stubbornness. It can make them self-conscious and help them reflect on their behavior, while addressing their inner needs and giving them insight into their actions.
5. Be considerate of their opinions: Be a good listener. Just because a person is stubborn, doesn’t make their point invalid. Try to understand the reasons why they are emphasizing on a certain point. Make them feel heard and respected.
6. Don’t offend them or tell them directly that they are wrong: When we tell a stubborn person that they are wrong; they tend to become even more rigid about their opinions. To handle the situation better, make them believe that their ideas are great, although they can always consider and see things from your perspective as well.
7. Negotiate: We may not be able to change their opinion with just one conversation, but we can definitely make them come half-way. Negotiation skills always come in handy in such situations.
8. Don’t request too much or sound desperate to prove your point: If you want to make a stubborn person do something your way, you must take a rational approach instead of an emotional one. No matter how badly you want things to go your way, do not exhaust yourself by trying to convince them.
Stubbornness is just a personality trait and can easily be dealt with. Ensure that they are at ease, to make them understand your side of the story. As said by the Swiss philosopher Johann Kaspar Lavater, “stubbornness is the strength of the weak”, and it boils down to us on how we handle this weakness.