10 Simple Tips to Deal with Difficult People

In our lives, at some point or the other, be it at work, in the family or the neighborhood, we come across a certain species of creatures. They look a lot like us humans, but their actions, attitude and behavior makes us doubt it every time we look at them. This species of creatures have only one goal: to be annoying. They bring out the devil inside you every time they as much as open their mouth!

We have all come across such people. They’re still out there right now making somebody go out of their minds. Their population drastically increases when some type of a global decline in some field is going on in the world. They tend to irritate you to the core, impart on you their infectious negativity. And just to be clear we’re not talking about our wives here but ‘difficult’ people!

So what does actually make these so called ‘difficult’ (insert derogatory words here…) people so difficult? Dale Carnegie, the renowned author of books on self improvement, public speaking and interpersonal skills once said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.” If we pay attention to this thought, and think critically about that dreaded difficult person that has been at you for ages, you will notice something you haven’t before. Something, which your anger towards him or her, has always clouded your vision from noticing before. They all have their reasons.

We have to adopt a pragmatic approach in dealing with these people because let’s face it they are like that because of some reason or the other. It could be the recession hitting them harder than you, it could be a problem in a relationship and it could even be as small as their car breaking down every now and then. Psychologists believe people usually vent their anger from the past into the present. Every person is unique has his or her own way of dealing with unpleasant life situations. Dealing with people who become difficult themselves due to such reasons is no easy task and so we map out 10 things you could do to help yourself around them:

10. Avoid Unnecessary Confrontations


Problematic people are often confrontational. Do not give them a reason to have one. People like these would generally have a reputation so you would know always to avoid it with them. But also maintain an amicable behavior with everyone else because you never know when someone has problems in their lives and how can they change for the worse and become difficult to deal with.

Avoiding such silly confrontations would simply keep you away from being the person they want to target and being friendly with everyone else would make those people take your side when you find yourself in a conflict with a difficult person without your will.  Keeping away from the face off would also mean your peace of mind.

9. Bring Them Into the Spotlight


Difficult people will always try to put the blame on you. They would try so much hard to find your mistakes that it will make you wonder that if they had worked equally hard on just their work, they would be worry free. But they just don’t listen, do they?

In situations where a difficult person is trying to throw you under the bus and is giving reasons and excuses from all over the world trying to make you feel little, just tactfully shift the focus on them. Be very logical and simplistic in your approach and provide them with facts that point to the contrary of what they are saying. If their language turns foul then warn them of consequences. Also, point out mistakes done by them to neutralize the issue. Putting the spot light on difficult people when they are trying to blame someone makes them nervous and uncomfortable as they themselves are trying to put the blame on others and saving themselves in the process. This would in the very least help in neutralizing any anger and frustration that the difficult person might have.

8. Be Cautiously Humorous


Humor has the power to lighten even the most serious situations in the world. When appropriately used, it can flush the anger and frustration of a difficult person and give them instant delight. Being humorous even in difficult situations around difficult people gives you a reputation of being composed which is undoubtedly a good reputation to have. Also, difficult people would then form an opinion of you that you do not get too much worked up around them and they don’t have a power over you and thus won’t target you anymore.

Using your wit and intellectual jokes too rudely can even have an unwanted effect on people and they could misunderstand you for being a difficult person yourself. So, a careful and a well thought out witty response to a difficult person in the heat of the moment is necessary and it might as well defeat his or her anger and make them see the situation more clearly.

7. Differentiate Between the Person and the Problem


In every difficult situation created by a difficult person, there are two aspects: The problem due to which the difficult situation is created and the person having the problem. You must know how to differentiate the two. You must not get lost in the heat of the moment like the difficult person is and try to reason with them by separating the issue. Make it clear that you do not have a problem with that person and you are simply trying to solve the very same problem that the difficult person is so mad about.

Being soft spoken toward the person and simply sticking to the issues at hand would be a major achievement on your part in such situations. Even if the difficult person is yelling and cursing at you, if you keep your focus on the problem and not the person, you will be hugely benefitted not only in that situation but also in making a rapport as a problem solver among other present.

6. Consult a Superior or Peers


If the issue is at your workplace, it is always advisable that you get a second opinion from a peer or a superior but not in front of the difficult person. You should privately consult someone who can relate to the situation and understand all the stakeholders in the matter and take their views about the whole issue. This shall be done strictly privately and knowledge of this fact to the difficult person would only worsen the situation.

Make sure that you have considered all the ways to solve the issue with your superiors as well as your peers because sometimes the difficult person might even be correct and you may be at fault. These things can only come to light if you talk to someone else as even your thoughts and vision maybe clouded as you may think that the person has a reputation of bad behavior this is just another case of him acting his part.

5. Bring a Positive Change in Them


This would go a long way in dealing with a difficult person as it will not only solve the problem for any persisting problem but also would keep the difficult person well behaved in the future. Rather than letting them be an obstruction to the problematic issue, show them ways in which they can themselves solve the issue and reach a better place in their minds.

Solving a person’s problems is one thing but letting them know that they can solve their problems themselves and thus improve their reputation among their peers is on another level altogether.  Find a way for them to solve the problem and bring out a positive change in their behavior and approach. This can sometimes be helpful in changing the person for good and if not at least he or she will consider you as the problem solver and would never blame you for anything at all.

4. Change the Subject

Time for Change - Clock

Some difficult people like to lead and bully their way in conversations and always act superior to others. They always do so in matters they are comfortable with and never ever do so with something they find unpleasant so as to eliminate any chance of anyone else taking control over them.

Its better in these situations to be able to move away from the issue which the difficult person wants to enforce just to stamp his authority and jump on stuff that is more indulging in a group and not centered around an individual. This way there will not be any reason for conflict among a group and a healthy environment is created with a feel of team work taking place.

3. Think and React

Rodin's Thinker in Silhouette 0782

It is always advisable that you must never just assume a person with a rapport of being difficult is being just that regarding a certain issue that you are also facing problems with. That is the reason they are filled with bitterness and are cross with others. The same thing has happened with them before and now they do not care anymore.

Always try not to take anything personal and give proper thought before reacting. Be considerate and reasonable with them and try to get to the bottom of the issue. There may be a scenario when the person is actually trying to be difficult to serve some part of his ego and if you know that for a fact, only then react but strictly in a most professional and ethical way. Difficult people generally thrive on reactions but if your reactions are positive and addressing the issue at hand, they would understand that you are not interested in a conflict and are just trying to work.

2. Act When Necessary


You must never be in a condition long enough to lose your peace of mind. If a difficult person is deliberately making you lose your mind it is a serious issue and you need to act accordingly. There is a time for being polite and professional but also a time for addressing annoying and deceitful acts. You must try your best initially to solve any issues a problematic individual might have with you amiably but there are certain boundaries and you must make sure that they respect them.

Have a strong stand on what is acceptable and what is not and make any such difficult person aware of the consequences he or she might have to face if they remain on the unacceptable side for too long. Be resolute on the point that any prolonged bad behavior will not be accepted by you and neither by any of the people affected by the same.

1. Keep Calm and Carry On


Lastly, we turn to the simple message that was used during the Second World War by the British Government led by Winston Churchill to boost the morale of the general public. The most important thing of all is not becoming the person you are fighting with. Avoid escalating the problem from your side and have a firm stand from the beginning on the issue. Don’t at any cost lose the plot and react in a way that you later might regret. Reacting aggressively or angrily will only lead to a fight and people would only think that two problematic individuals are having a go at each other.

If you are cool, you will be the more respected of the two and also considered a better individual. If there is nothing you can do to stop the difficult person from getting angry simply leave from the place and take a deep breath and try to relax if he or she is getting you angrier by the minute. Remember, this distinction is the only way you can at least have an impression on other that you are actually the problem solver and the other person is just trying to find excuses to fight.


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Ankit Rahate

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