How To Handle Difficult People

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The best advice on how to handle difficult people is to get them out of your life. If possible, eliminate all contact.

Do not make the mistake of staying in the situation longer than you have to and trying to set things right.

Difficult people will consistently involve you in unnecessary battles. The relationship will cloud your mind, stifle your creativity and effect other areas of your life.

How to handle difficult people

Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, Walt Disney Pictures 2009

If you cannot get rid of them and have to deal with them on a regular basis like family members or coworkers, at least, limit the time you spend with them.

For the intervals when you both cross paths, here are four action steps on how to handle difficult people:

Build up an inner defense

Even if you have healthy boundaries, difficult people might still be able to push your buttons. Most of all because they don’t take no for an answer. Be firmly resolved to, not let them get to you.

Also do not project your insecurities on them. In all likelihood, their behavior does come from their internal problems and does not have anything to do with you. Avoid the victim mentality at all cost.

It is best to develop an air of nonchalance around them.

Understand their motivation

People have their value system and points of view.

They do not do something bad intentionally. Their life’s experiences have shaped them in a way that is difficult for you to deal with.

They possibly even think that you are a difficult person yourself.

Most often this problem develops in childhood. They never learned to socialize correctly. Their opinion was rarely valued. They never felt loved.

So they build a fortress around themselves to hide their insecurities.

Praise them openly

Outwardly make a show of your appreciation for them.

Make them feel important as if you value their opinion while, on the inside, keeping detached completely.

Maybe they gave you some advice, however, little or unasked for. Or perhaps you build upon their groundwork.

Regardless, let a big part of the credit go to them, it will soften their front towards you.

Let them be one up on you

Sometimes praise is not enough. They might feel threatened by your existence, or you might have hurt their feeling in some way.

In that case, you have to make them seem superior to you, even if that means to bruise your ego in the process.

For instance, you could, stage a public apology. It might appear as if they have won, but then again probably no one has ever stood up to them.

From that point onward their dealing with you will be more respectful.

A Word of Caution:
Only use this technique with your colleagues and peers, never with your boss. If you have offended him, you could try to apologize in private, but more often than not you will have to leave. Staying there will only cause you misery.


If you can not stand them now, you probably never will. With the action steps, you, at least, know how to handle difficult people and can learn to coexist with them.

That will make your life a hell of a lot easier.

preview: how to make relationships work


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