Whether a coworker, family member or friend, we’re all dealing with difficult people at some point. They’re arrogant, argumentative, passive aggressive and/or negative. People maddeningly try to reason with them to no avail. We often struggle with these people because of fear of escalation, uncertainty about how to best handle the situation or discomfort with conflict. But if you’re not careful you can develop stress and anxiety when interacting with them. This is why it’s so important for you to develop strategies to deal with difficult people.
Consider these tips the next time you’re dealing with a difficult person.
Be specific about what makes the person difficult
Even if it may feel like everything about them makes them a difficult person, it’s necessary for you to specify their actions. Is is that they’re often yelling? That they constantly interrupt you when you’re talking? Or that they’re pessimistic and usually have a response for why nothing will work? Whatever their action, be clear about what it is. This way you can think though exactly how to respond to them based on their actions.
Don’t take it personally
It’s not about you. It’s their own stuff that they need to worth through. This is why they’ve become difficult because they have un-addressed issues. Always remind yourself of this when interacting with them.
Listen to them
Everyone wants to be heard, so do take the time to listen to them. But if you find that they’re going on and on and won’t allow you to speak, then you should definitely call them out on this.
Stay aware of your emotions
It can be so frustrating communicating with a difficult person, but it’s important to remain calm so that you can express yourself clearly. If your emotions begin to seep through in your communication, it may make it even harder for the difficult person to hear you.
Be clear about the boundaries of your relationship with this difficult person. If not, they can take advantage of the situation. Also keep in mind that they may try to push the boundaries. So remain firm.
Debrief with someone you trust
After interacting with the difficult person, talk it over with someone you trust. Ask for feedback as to how you handled the situation.
Dealing with difficult people can be frustrating, but know that it can become less stressful if you consistently implement these tips. And don’t forget to reassess how you’re doing along the way.