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How to Deal With Someone You Can't Stand

Updated on December 5, 2011

We all know one. That obnoxious person you simply can't stand. There is at least ONE in everyone's lives, and let's be honest - we probably are that person in someone elses life at some point or another.

Dealing with a difficult person is a very important skill to learn - it is crucial to learn how to work with different people, even those it seems impossible to get along with. There are different strategies to handle people - whether they are screaming, whining, or complaining. Here are my tips on handling annoying people without losing your head:



When you imagine that person who is always screaming at someone else, as a toddler throwing a tantrum - they no longer have any power, and you no longer have a headache!
When you imagine that person who is always screaming at someone else, as a toddler throwing a tantrum - they no longer have any power, and you no longer have a headache! | Source

Adjust Your Own Attitude

It sounds silly, but one of the best ways to handle someone who is driving you crazy is to take a step back and change your own attitude.

Think about it: If someone is screaming at you, instead of getting upset and screaming back, change your attitude and don't take it personally. It sounds difficult, especially in this day and age, when people have short tempers and tend to lash out when they feel attacked. But when you scream back, you are giving them more power, and you're going to end up feeling a lot more stressed out and angry at the end of the day.

Try this approach. Next time somebody starts screaming and yelling, change the way you view it. Instead of feeling personally attacked, visualize that person as a toddler pitching a tantrum. You'll walk away the bigger person, and you won't damage your own mood by dealing with them.

Lend An Ear

The category of annoying people that I probably best fit into is the whiners and complainers. It's a habit that I am trying to change, because I know it makes myself and the people around me miserable. If you're stuck dealing with a whiner and complainer, it's best to just listen at first.

Notice, I said "at first." Most whiners are perfectionists, and whining about everything that is wrong makes their concerns feel validated. Once the whiner has moaned for awhile, restate some of their complaints so they know you were listening to them. Then ask them to think of solutions to their problems. If they complain that there isn't a way to solve the problem, encourage them to spit out any ideas - even the ones that are unrealistic! More than likely, they will come up with an answer and they won't have anything left to whine about.


Listening to someones incessant complaints can drive you crazy - put a stop to it!
Listening to someones incessant complaints can drive you crazy - put a stop to it! | Source

Sarcasm Will Save You

Remember when I mentioned that I tend to be the whiner and complainer? Allow me to tell you an approach that won't work. Don't be that person who says "it's not that bad." It will make the whining person feel attacked and feel like they need to complain further to really get across how bad it truly is, and it doesn't solve anything.

The comment that will work is something sarcastic. "You're right. It's completely hopeless. Let's just give up, drop out of college, and become hobos." Keep it playful. You don't want to make the whiner feel antagonized, but you do want them to know that their complaining is annoying and that you aren't interested in hearing about their woes.

Another approach is to stop them before they repeat the same complaints. I'm a repetitive complainer - if I'm not feeling well, you'll hear about it, and you'll hear about it multiple times. The best way for someone to stop me in my tracks would be to say "You've mentioned it already." It reminds me that I'm going on and on about it and I need to stop. 

Having someone to vent with can save your sanity when it comes to handling an annoying person!
Having someone to vent with can save your sanity when it comes to handling an annoying person! | Source

Phone a Friend

Before I explain this, let me just that I am not advocating teamwork to take a person down. What I am suggesting is to find someone who shares the same feelings about that person so you have an ally. If you can't stand someone, chances are, someone else can't stand them either. Having that person to vent to and brainstorm ideas to handle the situation with can be a sanity-saver.

This is one of those things that should be used with caution. You don't want to rank on the annoying person constantly, and you don't want to turn other people against them. If you and your sister are an ally against your crazy mother-in-law, make sure you take care who you are talking about because you don't want your words to get back around to your mother-in-law, nor do you want your children or other people to hear your own complaints and form an unfair bias against them. And you don't want to become the person who is always complaining about someone else - so that other people have to find ways to deal with you!


Dealing with a difficult person can be a challenge, but learning how to do it will save you a lot of worry and anger, and it's an important skill to master!

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    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello LAURATHEGENTLEMAN,

      This is all very good advice. As you said, there's an annoying person in every crowd, be it a friend, or that co-worker with the bad attitude. It's hard to be mature and walk away, but your tips on handling these issues are good. My bad is whining too, I keep repeating whatever it is and can't let it go. I'm working on it though!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, Jean, for the lovely comment! We'd both better watch out - or we'll BECOME that obnoxious person in the crowd ;) Thanks, again!

    • AshtonFirefly profile image

      AshtonFirefly 5 years ago

      Great hub! Well-written, funny, and useful. Voted up :) Keep up the good work

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks for the comment and feedback, Ashton! :) Very much appreciated!

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hopefully, having to use these tips won't be really that necessary, but its good to know there is something one can do other than be utterly frustrated with hard to deal with people. Thanks for sharing!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you for the comment, oceansnsunsets! Exactly - there is always a way to handle something like this, but hopefully, you'd never NEED to! Thanks for stopping by!

    • rob_allen profile image

      rob_allen 5 years ago from MNL, PH

      Oh, this are the things that I've done before! I used to have a office colleague whom I can't stand! I can relate to you hub so much! Thanks for sharing this.I know every one of us has issues like this and I think thinking before you do a certain action will help a lot. Yes, I agree sarcasm will save you!!! :))

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, rob_allen for stopping by! Sarcasm is my hero when it comes to dealing with tough people. I'm glad you liked this Hub! Thanks, again!

    • MissDoolittle profile image

      MissDoolittle 5 years ago from Sussex, UK

      Great hub you have here. It's difficult at the moment because a family member, in fact my brother, is someone that irritates me often.

      However, your hub has taught me the ways I could deal with these situations.

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      @MissDoolittle - Ah yes! Luckily, these tips pretty much work on anyone, family included! Best of luck to you! Thanks for the comment!

    • arusho profile image

      arusho 5 years ago from University Place, Wa.

      That is so true, there will always be someone you can't stand, but have to deal with! Better to just let it go, than get all worked up about it.

    • Sheila Lee profile image

      Sheila Lee 5 years ago from Canada

      Very nice! It is so true, adjusting your attitude, listening, it all helps. Kudos! I voted up!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, arusho, for the comment! You remind me of a quote my mother used to say - "Fostering angry feelings about another person is like letting them live rent free in your head."

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, Sheila, for the lovely comment and for stopping by!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hmmmm I will remember your advice to tell the person, "You've mentioned it already!" If you say it works for you, I will believe it! :D

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! This one you can celebrate about and rejoice and share to your family and friends! Read the first Hubnuggets hub this year and where you can also vote too! http://enellelamb.hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/Hub... Have a wonderful and blessed new year Laura!

    • jeyaramd profile image

      jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      Thanks for the solid advice. We always have to deal with difficult people in our life. Hopefully, its not within the family. That would be so difficult. Your practical advice is refreshing. Thanks.

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      ripplemaker - Thank you for the comment! I know my friends have learned to use the "You've mentioned it already" tactic on me, and it shuts me up, for sure! Good luck!

      It is such an honor to be nominated! Thank you for the kind words of encouragement!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      jeyaramd - Thanks for the comment! I definitely tried to focus on situations that people have to deal with in their everyday lives! Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words!

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      Very good advice dealing with not so pleasant people. I have a particular person in my family I will have to use the sarcasm comment on - maybe she will take the hint :) Congrats on your HubNugget nomination! Best of luck to you!

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      This is awesome! Great advice, in fact I use quite a few of these myself. Especially the calling a friend tip. Anyway, congrats on the hubnugget nomination, I voted for you... so good luck!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks Alissa! :) I hope the sarcasm works out for you ;)

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you, wordscribe43, for the comment and for voting for me! I really appreciate it, and I'm glad you stopped by!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      This is excellent advice that anyone could implement. It is easy to see why this was nominated for a Hubnugget award:) Voted up.

    • everymom profile image

      Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much for this hub, and congratulations on being a Hubnugget nominee. While I have dealt with many obnoxious personalities in many of the ways you've described, I have also come to realize that life is full of ups and downs, and, thus, over the course of our lives we ourselves _will_ become the annoying one to others. But, if we have truly positive friends, who do listen even during our whining and complaining phase, and who see through our behaviors to who we truly are, then we will also get over it and get back to being the stellar people we think ourselves! We have to remember that that is true of _everybody_ (although it's not to say that we have to like everybody, be everyone's friend or therapist, etc.).

      Much food for thought, here; thank you for it!

    • wonderingwoolley profile image

      wonderingwoolley 5 years ago from Madison, WI

      This is a great hub. You use wit and your own personal experiences to give advice. I was entertained and informed. Way to go!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you, Donna! What a lovely thing to say, I really appreciate it!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, everymom, for the lovely comment! I very much agree - we don't have to be everyone's best friend. But, in most cases, we do have to get along, or at least peacefully coexist with others. Even the ones we don't like!

      I have found that some of the people I am closest with are the ones that stick with me, even THOUGH I sometimes become that endless complainer. You can tell, those are the true friends. :)

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you, wonderingwoolley, for the lovely comment! I am always glad to hear from people who enjoyed my writing!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

      I have a few of these people in my life and I also have to be careful how I talk about my own problems - I tend to use sarcasm in what I say about my own problems to other people to show that I do see the humour in the situation.

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks for the comment, Flora! That's definitely a good idea! I try to make my complaints at least HUMOROUS, so that people aren't as annoyed by them... :)

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I've worked in customer service for too many years not to have built up a few ways of handling aggravating/ negative people. Changing my own attitude works better than anything else. If that fails, I just keep in mind that I can go home at the end of the day while they have to live with their negativity all the time. No doubt that won't work for everyone, but it does for me! :)

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      That Grrl, that's a GREAT way of looking at it. I was a grocery store cashier throughout high school, and I know what you mean - you spend a looot of time with some very unpleasant people. Glad to see you were able to work past that! Thanks for commenting!

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois

      I like the first part about adjusting your own attitude. After all, it is really the only variable we can control. Voted up and voted Hubnugget.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      You are right on with the attitude adjustment. We can't control what happens to us but we can control our reaction. Great hub! Voted up!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Amen! Thanks for the lovely comment and the feedback, teaches12345 :)

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago

      Well done, Laurathegentleman, an interesting Hub that merits its HubNugget nomination! Voted Up and Useful.

      Now, has anybody got some advice for dealing with one of my pet 'hates' - the know-it-all who is not shy about sharing his/her knowledge at every opportunity? Especially if that person is a 12 year-old going on 50!

    • profile image

      crochet48 5 years ago

      When I saw your hub title, I thought of an abusive ex-supervisor I had the misfortune to work under. The categories of people you covered in your article - can be dealt with. This former supervisor - not so much. All along, this person's intent was to tear down and destroy. Thank you.

    • Mindy Meisel profile image

      Mindy Meisel 5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      "Pause when agitated works for me!" Thanks for a good, simple article.

    • profile image

      R. J. Lefebvre 5 years ago

      laura,

      Your hub was an eye opener. I have had occasions where someone was the unwanted blabbera who is crying (not literality) for 'attention'; the more I give, the more is wanted. If I followed your suggestions, I'd be tied down to no end.

      Ronnie

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you, Kieran. I am so honored to have even been nominated!

      My advice to you for handling a child that is ... how can I say it nicely... overly assertive? - would be to refrain from arguing. Though it is at times obnoxious, it is important for kids to feel like they are being listened to. While you SHOULD state your own ideas if they are offering their opinions on every little last thing, politely let them know that they made their point and they don't need to keep going. Hope I helped! Thanks for reading!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you, Crochet48. Unfortunately, there ARE always going to be people you can't stand that you really just CAN'T get along with. Despite not getting along with them, no matter how hard it is, it is STILL crucial to find a way to coexist without driving yourself crazy! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you, Mindy! I worked very hard on it, and I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you, R.J. - I am very glad you found my hub an "eye opener." Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 5 years ago from California

      You've got some good ideas here, except that sarcasm rarely works when dealing with jerks or simply someone you're not getting along with. I would avoid its usage entirely if I were you. Later!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, Kosmo, for the comment. The use of sarcasm definitely DOES depend on the person you're dealing with. It really depends on your relationship with that person, their personality, and what they're complaining about... Use with caution! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Good ideas here, laura ...

      I'm a bit of a slippery critter when it comes to people I can't stand. Life is just too short to be bored by them so I tend to 'remember' appointments I just have to keep elsewhere.

      I'm sure they talk about me behind my back ... but as long as it is behind my back I don't care :)

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you for the comment, Angie! That is another option, though one that I didn't include here because it isn't really "dealing" with the problem - it is simply avoiding the situation. (Although it is DEFINITELY one of my favorite ways to handle these people - "Oh no... I can't help you today, I have ... to... uh... rearrange my sock drawer." ;) Don't worry - I USUALLY choose a more subtle excuse.)

    • KDF profile image

      KDF 5 years ago from Central Illinois

      I only have one person I can't stand, the ex! And I find that simply ignoring her works quite well. Unless, we have to discuss anything about the kids, she is non-existant to me and it seems to work for now. Nice piece of writing laura. Thanks

    • laurathegentleman profile image
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      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks for the feedback, KDF. It sounds like you realize that for the sake of your kids, you have to put up with her to some extent! :) Keep it up!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      I have previously worked in customer service and as a collector. Yes, I know I look to nice to be a collector, and in fact I was a nice collector if there is such a thing. I was reasonable and respectful and collected more than anyone else there, and I think that the reason was because I was nice.

      Anyway, one can't take these things personally if it's not someone you know. When people are upset with CS people it's because we represent the company we work for and we're usually the only company person customers have access to. They would prefer to scream at the owners/managers, but they aren't available and we CS people are.

      Nothing makes a person who is losing their cool look worse than when the person they are screaming at remains calm and continues to speak quietly and respectfully, and keeps control of themselves. To anyone who might be looking on, the contrast is so sharp that the person out of control looks unreasonable and even ridiculous.

      Most of the time the things people are yelling about are not that important in the big picture. A nuisance, yes. Inconvenient, most certainly. Frustrating, for sure. All you can do is listen and try to figure out exactly what the problem is and how you might be able to help with it, or what suggestion you might make to correct it if that is even possible. Do everything you reasonably can, be empathetic and sympathetic. Sometimes that is more important than the resolution of the problem.

      Keep in mind that everyone has a bad day sometimes and if you have patience and consideration for others in unhappy predicaments, maybe when you're having a bad day they, or people in general, will return the favor.

      I like to think of Helen Keller when things get tough. Look at all she accomplished without being able to see or hear. Think of the advantages you have in comparison to many other people. Frustrating as things can be, determine to succeed.

      Good hub! Voting you up and useful.

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, Au Fait, for the feedback and the lovely comment! You always leave such wonderful, well-thought out comments on my Hubs and they are a joy to read!

      I agree with you completely - Customer Service workers often get the short stick when it comes to dissatisfied customers. I worked as a grocery store cashier and often had to listen to complaints from customers about coupons that don't work, sales that ended too quickly, bruised produce, etc. etc. etc. I always tried to keep in mind that it was my job to politely listen to them, despite the fact that none of it was my fault.

      I know that it's sometimes difficult to overcome a desire to yell back at difficult people, but sympathy and tolerance can go a long way!!

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

    • profile image

      samonaxoxo 4 years ago

      thank you soo much but I still think that my problem with such people can't be solved :'(.....there is a girl who is very arrogant and vain and such a smug,I don't know if she hates me or just jealous I don't know but she treats me like garbage but sometimes she treats me like a friend but then she says bad words about me behind my back that upsets me :( I am a very sensitive person that I would cry if someone one yelled at me.today I wrote something on her facebook for fun and she answered back and everything was ok but then I deleted my comments because actually I don't like writing comments on someone's account :) I don't know why maybe because I don't have self confidence or confidence in my opinions or maybe I don't want someone to dislike my words..I don't know but I am free to delete anything I've written but then when she found out she kept insulting me in a comment and she tagged me in this comment and we have many mutual friends who might see this and I can't remove this tag so I felt so embarrassed and when I reply back she kept in deleting my comments so I can't defend myself,when I surrender and told her please delete it she humiliated me and refused to delete.I really don't know what to do with this creature I am in sorrow and grief and extremely depressed that I can hardly sleep I am very sensitive that these things may never come out of my mind and my hatred to this girl CANNOT BE EXPRESSED!!!! I hope you can help me deal whith this problem and to feel happy again as I used to before I know her (which is the most regretful thing I have ever done) please reply and thank you :)

    • profile image

      Shawn 4 years ago

      Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      Ronnie 4 years ago

      If you find it impossible for a reasonal comunication from that yackkity yak, state: lets agree to disagree, if he/she continues via rebuke, state thanks but no thanks!

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