It's always good to begin these conversations with something positive.You can mention how much you value them and the relationship.And of course, I don't need to tell you that when your family member behaves this way with you, it has very little (or more likely nothing) to do with you personally.It's all about them, who they are, their past experiences, their unmet needs, their inability to communicate in healthy ways, their fears, etc. But if that difficult person is your mother, your father, your sibling, your child, or God forbid, your spouse, it's hard to just remember it's all about them and calmly let it roll of your back.
Attempting to punish them with your anger or retribution won't change their behavior if they are so entrenched in their own “stuff.” Make a rational decision about who you want to be around this person, and practice being that person even if you don't feel it right away.
I was talking with a friend this week who was telling me about some encounters with her mother.
My friend is one of the kindest, most loving, self-aware people on the planet. I can't get over how anyone who knows my friend could treat her poorly, but dang — her own mom??!! She has spent a lifetime trying to win her mother's love and approval, but her efforts are consistently met with coldness and disapproval.
And depending on the dynamics and interactions of your own extended family, you can have other difficult family members (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents) who are regularly in your life making you miserable.
(I'm going to leave spousal relationships and relationships with your own children for another discussion, as they are your primary family unit and problems here must be handled differently.) So how can you cope with and manage these family members who are so difficult and disruptive?