How to Deal with Difficult People

Some people are easy to be around and some are not. Difficult people can range from those who are a mild annoyance to those who can make life seem nearly intolerable, at times. Those at this negative end of the continuum, especially if we have contact with them on a daily basis, can jeopardize our mental and emotional wellness over time, particularly if we lack the tools for responding to them in an adaptive way.

Who Are The Difficult People?

Despite the fact that defining a “difficult person” depends on our own tolerances and abilities to respond adaptively to them, there are some people who have personality characteristics which many people find disagreeable. Here are some examples:

  • People who dominate conversations and never give anyone else a chance to talk – or people who seem to have no interest at all in what you have to
  • People who constantly berate themselves and others. Everything they say about themselves and others carries a negative message
  • People who can’t make a decision – and when there is any sort of conflict they hide out until they feel it is safe to reemerge. This behavior makes it difficult to work out the normal conflicts inherent in many
  • Gossips who seem more interested in everybody else’s business rather than their own. It is difficult to reveal anything about yourself if you feel that it may be taken out of context and spread to others. This leads to guarded and superficial
  • People who manipulate you into doing what they want. They seem to thrive on control, and you sense that your opinions or feelings don’t
  • Dependent people who seem unable to do things for themselves.
  • Angry people who seem ready to explode at any moment. Their “jokes” may carry an aggressive message and their passive-­‐aggression my lead to a lack of trust.
  • People who lie all the time.
  • The expert on Rather than talking they lecture – and they leave others with the feeling that their knowledge is insignificant. They seem to be in a constant state of competition.

Methods For Dealing With Difficult People

1. Staying Centered

When you are in the presence of a person who is driving you to desperation, try some “self-­‐talk.”   Think about your own strengths and your own capabilities to like and validate yourself. Understand that it is the other person who has the problem, but your responsibility to understand why you are unable to deal with this person.

2. Assertiveness

Assertiveness is not an expression of anger, but rather an affirmation of your rights as an individual. In response to the dependent persons constant pleas for help, rather than being driven to frustration, you might say, “I would feel more comfortable having some equality in our friendship, so I am going to ask you to call the restaurant yourself, just as I called the last time we went out for dinner.”

3. Confrontation

Sometimes an angry tone in our voice is the most effective way of responding to difficult behavior. Some people can hear loud and clear messages only when emotions are involved. “I asked you before not to gossip about me, yet it has happened again. I am angry about this! I don’t want this to every happen again!”

In a sense, we should be grateful that there are difficult people in our lives. Difficulties are an essential part of life and they give us opportunities to learn, to adapt and to achieve wisdom.

Leave a comment

Roy .K

7 years ago

Wow what good timing. I know expressing the emotional pain I was going through not necessarily with anger, or maybe even with some anger, Is ok if I am experiencing someone that is causing harm to me. But as far as my job is concerned it is still considered an outburst by my management and not accepted in my workplace.


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