How to Deal With Difficult People

Your co-worker embarrasses you in front of the boss.   Your sister-in-law never returns your phone calls.  The cashier closes his lane just as you've unloaded your cart to pay for the Bridal Gifts you are going to bring to a wedding scheduled an hour later.

difficult people

Everyday life is full of interactions that can make even the calmest person feel like screaming, and when these feelings strike, it can be hard to know how to manage them. 

When things like this happen, we tend to back away or overreact.  Keep in mind, though, that backing away or overreacting will never help you deal with the situation.

Experts suggest that there are better ways to deal with tense situations.  Here are some of them:


Take it personally.  If one of your co-workers won't get off your back, remember that difficult people often behave the same with everyone.  When you take it personally, you tend to get emotional and forget to think logically.

Go on the attack.  When you need to tell someone how you feel, don't say anything out of anger and frustration.  For example, avoid blowing up at a meddlesome friend and telling her you never want to hear her advice again.  Stay calm and keep your comments brief.

Repeat what doesn't work.  When your sister-in-law neglects to return a phone call, instead of waiting around for her to call you back and fuming, send an e-mail or visit her instead.


Choose your battles carefully.  If you are annoyed with the snotty cashier, take a deep breath and blow it off.  But if you're having a long-standing problem with a close friend or family member, try to work toward resolving the issue.

Don't dwell on the problem.  Move on and discuss solutions rather than focusing on and continually complaining about a problem.

Be forgiving of other people's faults.  Some folks are relentlessly difficult , but it is good practice to try giving even them the benefit of the doubt.  If your interaction produces friction, it may be partly your fault, too (It takes two to argue.)

Start with yourself.  Communicating effectively isn't always about fixing the other person.  Be consistently respectful and positive, and you'll have fewer difficult people to deal with.