How to cope with difficult people

man and woman sitting on bench
Photo by Vera Arsic on

Some might use a stronger word for them, but since I’m a professional, I’ll leave it at that: difficult people. Unfortunately, we all have to deal with them from time to time, whether they are strangers, neighbors, co-workers, managers, or even family members.

Difficult people don’t listen, don’t take accountability for their actions, and never apologize, even when they’re in the wrong. Once they’ve made up their mind, there’s no talking them into or out of anything! It’s like their brains have a force field that keeps out logic.

When the difficult person is, say, someone who cuts you off in traffic, sure it’s annoying, but you can move on. But when it’s someone you have to see every month, week, day… what on earth do you do?

Here are four tips for dealing with these difficult folks.

  1. Choose your battles. There’s little point in arguing with difficult people when you know you’ll always lose in their eyes. So save your energy. Let go of the little things as much as possible. When they threaten yourself, your loved ones, or your values, that’s the time to calmly speak up. Besides, if you wait until the subject matter is really important, your message will have more of a chance of getting through.
  2. Use the broken record technique. Once you’ve chosen the battle that’s important to you, tell the difficult person exactly what you’d like to do differently (i.e., “Please do not call me names.”) When they try to change the subject or point the finger at you instead, just keep making your point over and over and over again. Don’t let them throw you off course.
  3. Know when to walk away. When conflicts get heated, hang up the phone, or leave the room. If it’s someone you can’t just walk away from, like your boss, calmly say that the conversation isn’t getting anywhere and you need a break. Physically remove yourself from the situation. Walking away might also mean taking a break from or ending the relationship, if you have that option.
  4. Don’t take it personally. This is one is so tough to do, but it’s important! Usually, difficult people make lots of enemies. They are the common denominator, not you! So when they make accusations or fling insults towards you, remember that their behavior says a lot more about them than it does about you. You know who you are better than anyone.

And hey, if those four tips fail, chocolate is always a good backup plan 🙂

I hope this helped. Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in becoming my therapy client, go to my contact page.

– Rebecca

Published by rebeccaogle

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