4 Ways to Deal with Difficult People

If you’ve had the displeasure of interacting with a difficult person, you know how trying it can be. Stress and aggravation levels tend to skyrocket which leads to an overall unpleasant experience. Most of these situations are unavoidable, so permanently removing yourself isn’t a viable option. Here are few tips to make interacting with difficult people as easy as possible:
1. Maintain Composure. You don’t want to say anything that you could regret in the future. You also don’t want to get into a verbal or physical altercation with this person. Practice techniques that normally calm you down. Take a brief walk. Take a deep breath. Count down in your head internally. Do whatever it takes to remain calm so that you can use your best judgment to deal with the situation. Do not be reactive.

2. Pick Your Battles. Unreasonable people excel at entrapping others in pointless arguments. Don’t fall into the trap. Not everything is worth debating or arguing about. Conserve your energy and put it towards issues that you actually care about

3. Look Inward. What’s really bothering you? It’s easy to say that someone is bothering you but harder to pinpoint the actual issue. Is the person hitting one of your triggers? Think about other people that you’ve deemed difficult. Do you notice a pattern? Sometimes our issue with a difficult person has more to do with us than it does them.

4. Approach. Pull the person aside for a private talk. Make sure you’re in a calm space when you initiate the conversation. Use “I” statements in order to avoid making the person feel attacked. Tell them about your perspective of the situation. You may find that they’re unaware of how they are affecting you. This conversation could be enlightening for them. On the other hand, they may use this conversation to deny and invalidate your feelings. You cannot control this. At least you’ve taken the time to express how you are feeling.


Malyka Cardwell is a Couple and Family Therapist based in the Philadelphia. Malyka graduated with a BS in Psychology and a minor in English from Old Dominion University. She then went on to study at Thomas Jefferson University’s Couple and Family Therapy program with a specialization in Sex Therapy. To contact her for professional help email her here: MCardwell@PhiladelphiaMFT.com.

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