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Dealing with Difficult People

Updated on July 28, 2008

If you haven't been living under a rock for the last decade of your life, you probably realize that not all bipedal organisms out there live to make your day. In fact, some people are just downright despicable. There are many ways to confront such people, and your reactions will vary depending on the level and type of difficulty the person is.

To begin, let us discuss and identify the different types of difficult people:

1. The Bully

This is the first person that came to my mind when you mentioned difficult people. This is the person who had a bad time when he or she was in high school, or had crazy and abusive parents. Freud would say that this person is stuck in the Anal Stage of Development. He is nonpartisan in his cruelty; picking on everyone that looks or crosses his way.

To deal with the bully, you must first exude a sense of nonchalance. You don't care about the person and you're not going to look at the person. That person basically does not exist under your eyes. By being nonchalant, you achieve the medium between the types of personalities the bullies usually picks on. The defiant person is going to be picked on by the bully because he challenges the bully, and encourages the bully to stand his reputation. The weak person is going to be picked on as well, because he conforms to the bully and proves that the bully gets what he wants. If the bully in fact, comes to you and tries to nag you, stand your ground and look him straight in the eye. Ask him what he wants, and what did you do to deserve such treatment. Hopefully, you travel with other people to and from settings where there is a bully. If you are alone though, there are two things you can do, again, depending on the bully. If this is a bully who physically attacks, it is best to give him what he wants at the moment and make sure you leave in one piece. Invest in some self defense classes and a bottle of mace later on. If this is a bully who use abusive words, talk him down until you see a chance of escape. Ask him what his problem is, if he had an abusive childhood, if he had bad grades in school, etc. The key is subtle sarcasm. You want to be patronizing without being outright in your criticisms. This will again, confuse the bully, because he would not know how to respond to regain his respect.

Ultimately, a collective sense of indifference to the bully's attitude will leave him confused and this type of behavior would gradually dissipate.

1*. The Selective Bully

This bully is harder to deal with than the bully mentioned previously. Instead of being mean across the board, the bully only picks on a handful of people, or just one person. If this is the case, and you are his victim, display the above attitude of indifference as well. If he keeps picking on you, determine the reason why he is doing so. Do you act or dress differently? Is he jealous of a particular asset that you have? If you realize the reason, try to minimize it, so that he won't feel threatened. In addition, confront the bully whether or not you are aware of the reason. He might be surprised that you are taking the relationship under your control and stumble. If he does not take you seriously by that point, you should speak to an authority about this problem; either the teacher. the boss both of you work under, or even a police officer.

2. The Whiner/Do I Look Fat in This?

This is a person who wallows in a pool of self destruction and demise. She (let's assume) approaches you and tosses all the bombs in her life at your face. Obviously, if a loved one recently died, you should stop reading this because it is a legitimate reason to be sad. However, if a loved one died two years ago, and memories are triggered when she broke her nail and looks fat in a dress, it is then you know that somebody is looking for attention.

The most important thing you need to know in dealing with a whiner is do not give her compliments. Whiners are always fishing for compliments, and by offering compliments, you reinforce the whining with these positive outcomes. If she asks; "do I look fat in this dress?" reply with "eat less and go to the gym, then you can look like me." If she throws you another episode of high end drama with the boyfriend, tell her "from what you're telling me, maybe it's time to end the relationship". Whiners usually do not want to end the relationship they're in. The problem with whiners usually lies in their immense expectations for everyone else besides themselves. Avoid a whiner, but if you are approached by one, speak curtly and do not bust out the compliments.

3. The Trophy

This person is the exact opposite of the whiner. He lives to tell you how much your life sucks compared to his life. This person would not fail to let you know that besides the fact that he makes more money than you, he is going to get a promotion, he has a hot girlfriend who makes more money than your girlfriend, he is going to get his second condo, and by the way, he is doing fine. You try not to roll your eyes as he rolls into his third accomplishment of the week.

To deal with the trophy, you should also save the compliments. Trophies are indifferent to compliments, and you know that when they start responding with "I know, right?" instead of "thank you" to your compliment. Instead, say something like, "Oh, that's it? That's all you have to tell me about your week?". If you are proficient in the department of sarcasm, use compliments. Say, "Wow, listening to how great your life is just makes me feel so fulfilling. I think I found the meaning of life. Thanks for sharing".

4. The Plastic

Plastic is a malleable substance, and so is her personality. Often referred to as the social chameleon, the plastic agrees with what everyone else agrees with, and lives her life by other people's standards. This chick has no opinions of her own. While some plastics are benign, others can be very malicious when they start using people as stepping stones to their thrones of social status. Plastics are agreeable on the surface, but extremely toxic boiling underneath.

To deal with the plastic, simply do not deal with those kinds of people. If you know that everything you say will be tossed back at you in different words, why consult someone if you would only be essentially talking to yourself? Prevention is the key here to dealing with plastics. However, if you are subjected to rumors spread behind your back by a plastic, do not worry too much yet. Most people have the plastic detector developed in the back of their minds. If this is a sneaky plastic we're talking about, make sure you strengthen the bonds you have with your friends. You do not want to assume the role which the plastic has painted you in. If you feel that your bond has been deteriorating with your old friends, confront them. This takes extreme finesse and balance. Do not sound hostile, or accusatory, instead say something along the lines of "I know that ___ has been telling you things about me. I don't know what she has against me, but if I have ever done anything to offend you, please let me know instead of keeping it a secret. It's the only way I can improve myself". This is a very raw sketch of what you have to say, but the greater effect of confrontation lies in the intention. By confronting your friends, they will hopefully feel guilty for listening to the plastic and isolating you. However, if your "friends" remain hostile to you, are they even worth being your friends anymore? If all it takes is a piece of plastic to turn your friends on you, question the integrity of your friends and move on.

5. The Dead Energy

This person never contributes to any project. When you ask him how his day went, you receive, at best, a look in your way or a nod. This person rots away in his swivel chair and offers as much as wallpaper offers.

To deal with the dead energy, keep asking him questions. Start with what his interests are, or what his interests may be. Ask him if he likes to play video games. The point of concentration lies in increasing his confidence in his opinions. Another thing that may work is saying stupid or lame things occasionally, and laughing it off. He will realize that it is indeed, accepted to behave absurdly once in a while.

I hope I have covered most of the different kinds of difficult people there are. One rule that applies to all kinds of difficult people is do not take those kinds of behaviors seriously. Detrimental, destructive people are not worth you wasting any energy over.


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    • profile image

      Lee Anne 

      8 years ago

      Wonderful article, it help of my situation.

    • Hammerj profile image


      9 years ago from Cebu City

      Wow great article...keep posting your article and i will read it..its an interesting topic.

    • Uriel profile image


      9 years ago from Lebanon

      hey Quensday, I really loved going through the hub and reading more about every single character. I guess i can handle bullies and plastics ...Great hub!!

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      10 years ago from St. Louis

      Hi quensday. Great Hub, and some great advice too! Looking forward to reading more of your hubs.


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