No matter where you go, you cannot avoid difficult people. Some don’t intend to be difficult while others thrive at it. You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can control how you react to their behavior. Here are some tips on how to deal with difficult people.
Who are difficult people?
These are people whose ideals don’t match yours. At work for example, if you have a ‘devil that wears Prada’ kind of boss, this is a difficult person. If you have overbearing parents, that don’t accommodate your opinions and always take their word to be absolute, this is a difficult person.
The definition of a difficult person differs. What you perceive to be difficult could be different from what others perceive as difficult. Difficult people behave differently. For example, a manipulative person can become difficult if they are constantly manipulating you to get their way.
Types of difficult people
People who carry around negativity all day are also difficult. They pass this negativity air along. They complain all the time, don’t appreciate small things and are hard to please and simply look as if they have bitten something sour all the time. They can become toxic since they drain you of positive energy.
You may also come across people who constantly seek ways to provoke others. They have no self-control or awareness and seem to be saying the wrong thing all the time. They quickly offend others, in the pretense of jest while they actually intend to hurt the other person.
On the flip side, some people are often easily offended. Every little thing offends them and the people around them have to walk on eggshells for the fear of offending them.
They take every small thing as an attack and play victim all the time. Such people are difficult to please and can be emotionally draining.
This is another set of difficult people you wish you can cut off. The unreasonable don’t want to use logic. They prefer dwelling on the problem for the longest time and don’t want to work with others to find solutions. They are rigid and unwilling to consider the opinion of others or even be open to the idea that they could be wrong. They sometimes expect certain results but are not willing to support or provide the resources needed to get the results.
These are that do not allow room for error. When one makes a mistake, they make it appear like the biggest disaster of all times. Perfectionists seek perfection from others and make unreasonable demands. Such difficult people hinder creativity since people are so focused on doing the ‘right’ thing that they don’t think of different ways of getting things done.
How to deal with difficult people
The problem is not the problem. The problem is your reaction to the problem.
Difficult people can ruin your day if you allow them. Since you cannot change them, the best way to deal with them is to change your reaction to them. Rather than let them ruin your day with their unreasonableness or being inconsiderate, you can find a way to live with them and not lose your cool.
Most people that treat others badly are usually struggling with something. As difficult as it may be, being empathic will help you understand where they are coming from. For example, an insecure boss will easily put others down, since she feels that the contribution, correction or criticism by others is belittling. I have experienced a colleague that was cruel to her subordinates which came from her low self-esteem.
Calm yourself down
When dealing with difficult people, self-control is divine. If you can manage to maintain calmness while your brain is telling you to react and put them in their place, then you have mastered self-control. There are situations in which you can speak up. If a friend is being difficult, you can tell them so.
On the other hand, if your boss is being difficult, it’s tough to come straight up and tell them they are being difficult. In such a situation, practice self-control, calm yourself down and choose to not let them ruin your day.
You know that friend that complains about everything. She complains about the food, the weather, the government, the economy, humans and the universe? This level of negativity can dull your day. When she keeps mentioning all the things that are wrong with life, you start to see the same and before you know it, you are wallowing in their misery.
In such a case, speak up. Tell them to stop being so negative or you will stop hanging out with them. Even better, let them see the brighter side of life. Maybe that is just what they need, a little bit of optimism.
Some difficult people can hurt you and you need to cut them off. This may seem extreme, especially if they are family or dear friends, but sometimes it’s necessary. If your partner is always criticizing you, and not in a good way, and nothing you do is good enough, you could an emotionally abusive relationship.
If you constantly walk on eggshells around your partner, this will increase your anxiety and before you know it, you are a nervous wreck. If you recognize such difficult people in your life, decide that your happiness matters more and choose to walk out. No one needs that amount of negativity in their life.
Talk it out
If you find yourself living or working with a difficult person and you can’t leave, seek help. Some form of coaching can help you deal with such situations. Talking to someone, such as human resources manager at work can help you deal with a difficult boss better. Seek therapy if you have to or talk to someone who understands and can give you sound advice.
Choose your battles
Just because another person is being difficult, this does not mean they have to affect you. Choose your battles. If the difficult person is not affecting you directly, avoid them. Choose not to care so much about them or what they do but to focus on yourself and your wellness. This is the message Mark Manson passes on his book, the subtle art of not giving a f*ck, simply choose your battles. I also wrote about this in 3 thoughts that could completely transform your life.