Ways & How

how to deal with difficult people

how to deal with difficult people

Human beings are social animals. We need the company and support of others as much as we need air. Even the most isolated recluse must seek out company once in a while or otherwise go mad. Aside from that, no man can live completely independent of others. We need other people for encouragement, interaction, or even for merely supplying our needs in the most basic, commercial transactions. We need to deal with people on a daily basis. Acquiring skills for such interaction is molded into us from birth onwards, and we usually learn to get along with others at an early age. Nevertheless, how to deal with difficult people is a skill more difficult to master. The following suggestions may be helpful:

  1. Leave. This is the simplest thing you can do. Usually, we don’t get a sense that people are difficult right off the bat unless we catch them at it. Sometimes we only realize someone is difficult after we’ve had several run-ins with the person. Once you do, determine not to be drawn into any skirmishes with him or her.



    t is not worth losing your peace and composure over someone who is irrational, hot-tempered, and belligerent. No appeal to reason or compassion will do any good because the difficult person is not interested in logic or making others happy. He only needs an outlet for his fury. Do not be that outlet.

    If it is an established pattern of behavior, then it becomes abusive. Leave even if it means leaving a house, a relationship, or a job. Weigh carefully how much of your sanity and well-being you are willing to sacrifice to the person’s abuse and decide accordingly.

  2. Learn to detach. Not all problems or dealings with difficult people can be solved by leaving. Unfortunately, there are situations when leaving is hard, e.g., when your relative, boss, or customer is being difficult. If this is a one-off scene, not a repeated pattern, then there must be an underlying cause. Discover it and defuse the situation right away. Find out the source of the problem, ask how they want it resolved, and meet them halfway.

    If you need to face the situation repeatedly but have no immediate option to leave, you need to learn to emotionally detach from the experience even while it’s ongoing. It’s hard to put up with difficult people without feeling demeaned, discouraged, or depressed. To preserve your sanity, train yourself to mentally and emotionally detach. If you can, learn more about the person, his background, or her difficult life experiences. You may find a clue as to why they act that way and be able to help them overcome that. At the very least, you can extend more understanding knowing that something is triggering all that anger.

    It’s harder to deal with when you’re living with the difficult person. If the behavior has been escalating only recently and is not the person’s usual behavior, consider whether there may be a problem or crisis going on that is causing the person to lose balance. If not, check if a medical condition is causing it. If the behavior has always been there, then you need to seriously assess if the behavior is abusive and get help.

    On the other hand, if you’ve had to leave several jobs because your bosses or your co-workers or your employers were all difficult and had problems and issues, then you may need to consider that the difficulty lies with you. A serious self-evaluation is in order.

  3. Let go. When dealing with a difficult person, you have to be let go in order to move on. Let go of the need to be right. Let go of the pain. Let go of your ego. Do not insist for the other person to hear you out or listen to you. Don’t seek his approval or her acceptance. Release forgiveness, not to let them go scot-free or absolve them of blame or accountability, but to free yourself from bitterness and resentment. There are more positive, productive things in life. Don’t get mired down in the negativity of the difficult person, otherwise you will become one yourself. Take the higher road and move on.

People are people no matter where they are. Living, loving, and learning with them is part of our everyday existence. Where people are easy to get along with, reasonable, and positive, life is definitely smoother and happier. But sometimes there are those who cross our path for whom we need to know how to deal with difficult people. Let’s hope they are few and far between.

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