How to Deal with Difficult People

What does it mean, that someone is difficult?

Every day, we come into contact with people that are walking emotional bundles. They carry the weight of past experiences with them, framing their present experiences as well as whatever wrong assumptions about life they have gained from those hurts.

Their previous experiences have conditioned them, from childhood on, to see the world as a dangerous place, full of treacherous people and pregnant with risk. It’s best not to trust anybody! Because of this frame of reference, they can’t keep an open and trusting attitude about interpersonal interactions.

When you think about dealing with people like this, it is easy to see why they are called difficult people or difficult relationships. They are scared, resistant to trust others or directly rejecting cooperation out of mistrust.

Are they the walking wounded? You bet! The best way of framing this interaction is to see them as non-mature people (regardless of their age), that act as wounded children. They sulk, are easily frustrated and upset, get paranoid when given feedback and in general show a reduced ability to work with others in shared projects.

What is the next step, once you’ve realized that you’re dealing with a difficult person?

Don’t take their behavior personally. Their troublesome behavior is their own way of reacting to life, was there before you, and is directed to everybody they come into contact with.

Don’t fight back or try to beat them at their own games. They are consummate artists who have been practicing their skills for a lifetime, so don’t get into responding fire with fire. You will merely be showing them that dealing with other people is too complicated to handle.

Don’t give in to unreasonable requests. If you give them what they want just to appease them or put them in a good mood, they will request more and more later.

Don’t try to change them, you are not their parents/therapist or significant other.

Well, wait. Did we just tell you what NOT to do? Yes. Because in a situation like this, there is really only one thing you CAN do, and have a healthy outcome.

It’s this:

You can only change your responses to their behavior, not the behavior itself. In doing so, and doing it consistently and firmly, they will begin to recognize a cause and effect trend. I.e., if I push someone away in this way, the result is this. Or, if I demand this, I get that.

So, the bottom line is that you have to have a clear idea of what you stand for, tell people your position in a calm, clear way, walking away when they use intimidation, guilt or abuse to get you to do what you don’t consider appropriate for your place in the relationship and all the time avoiding getting emotionally involved.

Neil Warner

Neil Warner

I’m the “relationship guru,” and my main focus is to increase the quality of love-based relationship experiences. In this ground-breaking guide I offer useful strategies on healing a difficult angry relationship with love and compassion. You don’t have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Let us share our tools with you today,by reading the ebook: Passive Aggressive Workplace.

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