Dealing with difficult people - How to deal with difficult people

Dealing with difficult people


Every day, no matter where we are, we always find people who are difficult to deal with, and if you are not a very assertive person, you will find this a rather tiresome chore. Most often, difficult people are negative, their negativity and cynicism frequently gets you feeling down. Some people are plain bullies and take much pleasure in making things difficult for others and making them feel worthless. Dealing with difficult people is never easy causing some people put off dealing with them for a later time as they feel it is better not to rake up trouble. Some others are afraid of provoking negative reactions and getting hurt. Ultimately, they brush whatever these people say or do under the carpet. A few others mentally and emotionally disconnect from difficult people and never actually handle the problem of dealing with them. Fear is a huge factor in facing such people - fear of being attacked, fear of being mocked at, fear of becoming a laughing stock and fear of looking small and insignificant in front of others.

How to deal with difficult people

Most difficult people are difficult because of certain issues in their lives, and oftentimes, it is a mask to cover up their vulnerability or insecurity.

Difficult people aren’t difficult because of the persons they are, they may be difficult because of their attitudes and the way they look at things. So if you can get round to showing them that there is a better way of looking at life, then that’s a great way to not only deal with but also transform difficult people.

One important key to deal with fear is to face it. No problem dissipates into thin air without having faced it. Firstly, you need to make a decision to face the person directly, which also means that you need to decide what exactly you want to say to that person. When you face a difficult person, you need to tell them very clearly, how you feel about specific instances and not make generic accusations. Accusations will only cause another storm to brew .

Tips for working with difficult people

Active listening is important in dealing with difficult people. The first step in conflict resolution is listening to the other person’s point of view. Very often, when there is a conflict, we neither listen to what the other person is saying nor do we make an attempt to understand his/her emotions because we are already framing retorts and responses to what they are stating and hardly pay attention to how they feel about the situation. Knowing where a person is coming from and why he/she is responding the way they are changes the way we look at things.

Looking directly into their eyes while talking would often unnerve such people. They either tend to look away or falter during the conversation. The eyes mirror the soul and you could learn a lot about the person just by looking into their eyes during a conversation.

Ask for clarification when the person makes some general accusations and becomes difficult to talk to. Asking pertinent questions often makes them think about what they are saying. Getting into slinging matches does not help. Telling the person that you do not agree with him/her and moving on would be sufficient. You need to be assertive with such people and developing assertiveness skills would take would help you in handling difficult people more effectively.

Keeping your cool during any confrontation is very important. It is only when you lose your cool that you let the other person take control over you. Being calm often confuses and brings out strange reactions from the other person – you always have the upper hand.

Agreeing to tread a neutral path until a better understanding is achieved would be a great way to start working through the problem. Most often, little acts of kindness and love, changes their perception of us. It may or may not work with everyone, but it is definitely worth a try.

Garner support from people at the workplace or at home where you face difficult people. It helps to understand from other show they face similar situations. Sharing notes on what works in handling such people often helps. A supportive network gives you the courage to face difficult people and helps you to be more assertive while you’re facing such people.

Sometimes you need to know when to walk away. Some battles are not even worth the fight. You would just be wasting your time and energy on such a person, but what is most important is the fact that you gave it a try - you faced your fears.

Oftentimes you may unduly stress yourself out by worrying about such people and their behaviour towards you. Trying to change a person may not always be possible, you could at best find effective ways of dealing with the person and keep them from affecting you too much. In any given population there are always these difficult people or bullies and this is a fact that needs to be accepted.

Self awareness - knowing who you are and being in control of yourself is very important in dealing with any situation in life. Letting people push the buttons on your emotions by making you lose your balance or affect your productivity is giving everything into the hands of others. When you are in control of your emotions and reactions, very few people are able to push your control buttons. Never let go of your positivity at any point of time.

Escalation to higher authorities, even though an option should always be your last resort.

Love can turn the world

After reading many of the comments on this page I added this video.. one of my favorites, I believe that love can change the world.

Acquire the skills needed to deal with difficult people

Difficult people will always be there wherever you go. Equipping yourself with certain life skills is important. Assertiveness skills, conflict resolution, ability to negotiate and influence others etc. could help you handle difficult people more effectively without having to run for cover every time you face them. The more you are able to face such people, the more self-confident and strong you emerge. So do not wish these problems away or sweep them under the carpet the next time you face them, handle them and you will be better for it.

More by this Author


Your comments are highly appreciated 28 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Great tips for dealing with difficult people. I tend to pour on additional honey when confronted with a meanie. In reality we never know what's going on in someone else's life...if you can't help the situation just walk away. Voted UP!


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

LOL, the honey always works doesn't it?? slick and sweet. I prefer to use some love though not just the honey...:) Yeah sometimes you just need to walk away.

Thanks sunshine for dropping by and letting me know. Much appreciated.


LailaK profile image

LailaK 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

This is very helpful, especially when dealing with older people!


Jlava73 profile image

Jlava73 5 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

Such great info. Bullies lose steam when they find they are unable to affect your mood. Great Advice! I can always use a reminder.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Great topic sofs, In my line of work ( Nursing ) I had to deal with difficult staff and patients. I found if i really listened to them i could come to some agreement in most cases. Sometimes it was better to have a cool-down period then attempt again. You gave some good advice...Thank you...


MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 years ago from The Caribbean

Reminds me of "Difficult Conversations" by Douglas Stone et al. Trying to understand some people may be challenging, but also contribute to the peace around us.


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Lailak, glad it is helpful for your kind of situation too. Dealing with difficult people need not always be difficult. Thanks for the read and the comment.


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Jlava, great observation there. Yes, the reaction from our side is what motivates bullies/ difficult people. Thanks for the read and taking the time to comment. God Bless!


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Hi Ruby, active listening is indeed a great way to cut through barriers, and I completely agree with you staying cool and refusing to let difficult people have the controls does work. I am always happy to hear from you :) Thank you :)


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

MsDora, I must confess I haven't read 'Difficult Conversations'. But the truth is most people can be won over with patience and willingness to resolve they issue. Glad to see you again. God Bless!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia

Know who you are and being in control of your own emotion and own your life...yes, your are right, I started to tell myself when I am stopped on my path by people's attitudes around me: "You can not change other people but do not let them to change YOU':)


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Great understanding and application of the principle- Be the change you want to see. I totally agree with you, oftentimes changing yourself changes a whole lot of people and things around you. Thanks for the read and the sharing. Greatly appreciated.


timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You

Absolutely right sofs. You can't let these people get to you. Self-confidence, and a cool-headed, positive attitude will almost always win the day. Sometimes though, it's better to just walk away, and let them cool off.


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Hi Tim, beautifully summed up. Not letting difficult people get to us is crucial, if we are in control of ourselves we can bring some amount of control into the situations we are in. Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate it greatly. Thanks and God Bless! :)


rekha 5 years ago

Nice read! I've come across people who are blissfully unaware of how difficult they are, and others who are willfully difficult. It's tougher with the latter ones, with whom I opt to go silent. The tips especially asking questions sound good! Very useful article. Thank you.


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Hi Rekha,thanks for the visit and the insightful comment. Yes, self-awareness may be lacking among such people and you are right about the one's that knowingly are difficult. Opting for silence with bullies may not always work or really stop them from bulling, assertiveness and facing up to the challenge may be needed at times. But there are no set ways of tackling the problem each individual is different and needs to be dealt with differently. Thanks for the stopping by to read and comment :) God Bless!


Whimsical Chair profile image

Whimsical Chair 5 years ago

lol . . . I love Lailak's comment.

"This is very helpful, especially when dealing with older people!"

I think it's better to walk away rather than to think you know everything.


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

I am not so sure about that, I would rather face the problem and learn about dealing with it than walking away.. but then we are different people.. thanks for the comment and expressing your point of view.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Excellent hub, Sofs! It is sometimes better to walk away, to use a bit of honey; and to always remember that the difficult personality is about that individual, and not you us. That was the hardest thing for me to learn about dealing with difficult people.


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Genna, glad to see you. Hope all is well with you.

Yeah, it is not about you... difficult people have baggage to carry and sometimes walking away is an option.. :) Thanks for the read and the comment.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

A very useful topic Sofs. Some great advice.

It is not always easy deciding whether to lay on the honey or simply walk away. Sometimes laying on the honey can seem to be patronising and only inflame the situation.

It is essentiol the be able to deal with dificult people in a customer service situation where it is not possible to walk away.

A great hub and voted up


mtsi1098 5 years ago

An excellent approach to the hub as you got your point across in the calm, cool way just as you said is a way to deal with difficult people. I like the way you try to resolve the issues in others but like you said - some people (like Bad Bosses) are not worth it. thanks...hope all is well...bill


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Rosemay, there is no one solution to any problem, each person is unique and different and we need to make some educated guesses with what works with individuals and situations. It is true that the honey can actually backfire..with some people.

Thanks for making this point clear and for the comment.

Appreciate the voting up.


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Thank you for your kind words, Bill. I believe there are ways of getting around to most people difficult or not, but then with some we just need to accept things the way they are.

Thanks for asking... Things couldn't be any better. Hope all is well with you Bill. God bless!!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Hi Sofs-so glad I caught this hub. It really has a wealth of great info. It seems that conflict is everywhere we go now...but, it shouldn't let it rob us of our peace.

These are wonderfully solid tips for dealing with an 'ordinary' conflict...but, there are times when we are faced with more than just an annoyance, or a difficult person. Sometimes that conflictual person is wearing a personality disorder that will intentionally seek out conflict-like a narcisstic person or an antisocial personality.

I believe that my former boss had both of these going on. She intentionally set out to bully her way around the hospital, intimidating and misusing her authority. I did what Tim suggests-tried desparately to avoid her. Unfortunately she chased me out of there. Guess what? I'm happier where I am because the working environment is one of support. And, the best part? She got kicked out of there after so many complaints were filed against her harrassment strategies!

Voted your hub up for its content and presentation. Hope you are feeling better now.


tamarindcandy profile image

tamarindcandy 5 years ago

Sometimes the solution to difficult people is to cut all ties with them, though unfortunately that isn't always an option. :(


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Denise, As long as there are people there is going to be conflict. Maturity and the desire to resolve conflicts is what we need. I believe even the hardest nuts crack with love.. but we may not have a one approach solves all problems.. we may need to find what works best in that situation.. Yes, I know a bit about what you went through with that woman..and I am glad that it has worked out well for you. Thank you Denise for sharing.. love ya!! God Bless!


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Tamarindcandy, It is a harsh world out there..but yes sometimes that is the best for both.. at least you will stop hurting..agreed not a great option but it still is one.. thank you, much appreciated!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working