How to deal with difficult people

The wonderful thing about people is that we are each a unique creation. Not only do we come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, we also vary in personality, temperament, and attitudes.

Some of us are shy, while others are outgoing. Some are planners while others are impulsive. We are optimists, pessimists, selfless, selfish, strong, weak, and most of us are all of things depending on who we’re with, where we are, and what we’re doing.

With this chaotic combination of characteristics brewing in all seven billion of us, it’s no wonder that we sometimes have a hard time seeing eye-to-eye with EVERYONE. Different politics, religious beliefs, principles, and perspectives place many of us at odds with one another quite often.

Difficult People

If you’re a person who doesn’t like conflict, you may try to avoid these uncomfortable situations by keeping your opinions to yourself when you are in the company of someone whose opinions differ from yours. You might even turn the other cheek if someone tries to goad you into a confrontation.

But what do you do if you work with this person and must see him or her everyday? What if you’re related to this person and avoiding him or her is difficult, if not impossible?

Because I have a hot temper, I’ve spend a lot of time reading about how to control my anger, especially when it comes to dealing with difficult people.

The advice on this topic always falls into one of two areas: 1) change your attitude, and 2) psychologically manipulate the other person. I know, the second area sounds more fun, but it’s the first area where you’ll make great strides towards your own happiness so we’ll start there.

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“Difficult People” Might Not Like Me… and That’s Ok

Wanting everyone to like me is one of the primary reasons I tend to give into what difficult people want or avoid having a conversation with them. But the truth is, not everyone will like you, and that’s ok. However difficult a person might be, we can still learn from them.

I Might Be the “Difficult Person” Sometimes

If we’re honest, we might be the difficult person to work with in some situations. I’m sure there are plenty of things I’ve done in the past to cause my workers to be frustrated or annoyed. Working with difficult people takes humility times. Often, that humility is cultivated when we realize we can be just as difficult to work with in some ways.

Working with difficult people is one of the most challenging aspects of working in a business or organization. But the next time you’re tempted to write someone off as “impossible to work with,” remember these principles. Don’t be afraid to have a difficult conversation if necessary. But also embrace humility, recognizing none of us are easy to work with 100% of the time.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
Photo by Taylor Nicole on Unsplash

Dealing with difficult people is a challenge none of us can escape. If we're willing to try, however, there are ways to make it easier. Three times a week, we work diligently to share thoughtful insights from our community of cross-generational writers and leaders. We’ve been doing this consistently for many years with a community-driven mindset and without ad revenue. If you’ve experienced a spark that inspires you, please consider supporting our efforts by becoming a Sustaining Common Grounder (our version of a patron) with a recurring monthly donation. If you already contribute, our gratitude runs deep. Thank you! Become a Patron!

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