5 Ways to Deal with Difficult People

It’s almost impossible to go through life without encountering someone who is difficult. Difficult people exist in our families, our workplaces and in our daily life. What you need to understand is that people are not difficult without reason. Everyone is a product of their experiences and life lessons. What you see as difficult may make sense in the mind of that person.

There are some strategies you can use to deal with difficult people:

  1. Don’t Make Them Wrong in Your Mind – Everyone has a different perspective of the world. It’s easy to assume that your way is the best way. The difficult person is doing the same thing that you are. Instead of seeing them as a roadblock, you should try to see things from their perspective. You may not agree with it, but find a way to respect it as their point-of-view.
  2. Change your Approach – Avoidance or confrontation is only successful in putting someone on the defense. If you want to make your interaction easier, you may have to change your approach to the person. Listen and try to understand. You don’t have to become best friends, but you can be cordial and compassionate.
  3. Compromise with Yourself – If someone is difficult, the answer is not to allow them to control you or run every interaction. However, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get them to see your point-of-view or to change. The only person you can change in the situation is yourself. Find a way to compromise to meet their needs, but in a way that still honors you as an individual. Figure out what you will are willing to give that won’t make you feel like you have to lose yourself.
  4. Breathe– Breathe before you meet the person. Breathe while you are interacting with the person. Breathe after you are done. Continuously take deep breaths to center yourself and keep you from stressing out or getting angry. Don’t give in and give them the angry response they are expecting. Surprise them by being calm and receptive.
  5. Limit Your Exposure – If you find that there is no resolution and the person continues to be difficult, there is no reason you have to be exposed to this person. If it is a choice between them and you, you should always choose yourself. It might mean finding a new job, getting out of a relationship or limiting conversations, but you have to do what is best for your well-being.

The most important thing to remember is to not take it personally. Even when it feels really personal, if someone is attacking you it is about something within them that they are projecting onto you.  You can employ these tips and take care of yourself in any instance where you are dealing with a difficult person. It’s not your job to make them less difficult. That lesson is reserved for that person. Your job is to learn how to not allow their difficulty to change who you are or stop you from accomplishing what you need to accomplish. Never allow an attitude to stop you from your goal.

“We are constantly being put to the test by trying circumstances and difficult people and problems not necessarily of our own making.” – Terry Brooks

Is there someone difficult in your life? How have you handled the person in the past? Are you willing to try something new? Please share your thoughts in comments.