6 Simple Ways for Dealing with Difficult People


dealing with difficult people

No matter who you are, you’re likely to cross paths with people who really try your patience.  You could share a cubicle, a friendship, or even (a’hem) your home with them.

These difficult people can vary in different parts of your life. For example, there was a supervisor at work who I had to stop meeting with. The backhanded compliments and constant negative implications made me feel two feet tall and put me in tears after almost every discussion. I reconnected with a friend a few years ago. It started off great, with regular shopping trips and girls’ nights out. But I quickly recognized that our conversations always centered around pity parties for herself. As a friend, I wanted to support and encourage her (which I did). But I soon realized it was sucking the life out of me as the relationship was very one-sided.

My intention is not to point fingers because I certainly have my quirks, too. However, if you find yourself dealing with difficult people, it’s important to learn strategies to keep your sanity in tact.

1. Use the situation for self examination:

“People who irritate us usually have something to show us about ourselves,” according to author Sandra Crowe.  Ask yourself: “How is this person holding up the mirror to me?”

For example, a consistently late friend may remind you how impatient you can be. Perhaps that trait puts a damper on the time you have with that friend when she’s 15 minutes late for lunch. So letting it go might be a good choice.

If it really bothers you, maybe you just need to tell your friend. It’s not easy, but getting to the root of your own feelings can help alleviate your frustration. If you never conveyed your concerns, you’ve enabled the very trait that bothers you the most.

Looking inward can help you replace annoyance with calmness.

2. Change your perspective:

Obviously, everyone has their own personalities that may not always mesh. A total workaholic might become annoyed with a laid-back person. Or an introvert might be taken aback at times with a super-friendly person.

Think about this:  you might be your difficult person’s difficult person!

Looking at the situation from the other person’s point of view can help diffuse your frustration.

3. Keep your cool:

Your difficult person might be just downright unreasonable. But it’s still vital for you to maintain your composure.

The less reactive you are, the more you will use better judgment in a heated situation. {Tweet This}

Bottom line:  if you feel like you’re going to blow your stack, use an old fashioned, tried and true tactic. Take a deep breath and count slowly to ten before you say something you might regret. If you are still struggling, here are more ways to learn to love the unlovable people in your life. 

4. Be proactive, not reactive:

Don’t take things so personally. I know I can be the number one offender for this one. For years, whether it was personal or professional, I was always on the defensive and felt the need to explain myself when a problem was being addressed.

For you, it could be as simple as your manager not answering your email, again. It’s easy for negative thoughts to run rampant in your head. “I knew she never liked me” or “I bet she never ignores so-and-so’s emails.” Instead of allowing your brain to fester with the worst-case scenario, call her or stop by her office to confirm she received the email or to simply get the answer you need.

5. Set boundaries:

This is the tough part because boundaries don’t always come naturally or easily — especially when it’s with a friend or family member. You love them and you don’t want to hurt them. But only you know the negative impact it has on you.

Perhaps think of boundaries as a fence in your backyard; there is a clear end to them and beginning to you. In essence you are the gatekeeper, deciding who to allow in your whole yard and who to let just within the gate. With the friend I mentioned earlier, it hurt me deeply to set such a heavy boundary. But others close to me also began to see the anxiety it caused and concluded it was more unhealthy to not do anything about it. Along with boundaries, learning to let go and forgive is vital to keeping the peace.

How can you start setting boundaries? Simply limit the amount of time you spend with this person. If she regularly texts you all day, every day and keeps the unhealthy pattern of dependency going, just be up front. Tell her you can’t communicate right then, but maybe there’s a good time you both can talk later in the week. If you are in a situation where it is damaging you emotionally or mentally, then it’s time to set bigger boundaries, even ending the friendship. But please make sure you seek wise counsel as well as put a lot of prayer and thought into it before you do.

6. Keep your distance when you can:

Your time is valuable, and when you know someone is not going to change or receive your input, it is sometimes best to keep your distance.

What ways have you learned to graciously deal with the difficult people in your life?

Comments


  • Janelle Keith

    Great article. For years I dealt with difficult people with different goals and ways to achieve them. I was the odd ball out and negatively internalized it all. I finally left taking the abuse out on myself. I feel mostly recovered from the emotional damage. Healing has come. I never want to grow up like that again and these ways will help set my future boundaries. Thank you.