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10 Best Ways to Handle Difficult People

Imagine this; you wake up 15 minutes late, shuffle around gathering yourself, snatch the kids out of bed to get them dressed, fed, to school, and your spouse calls to remind you to stop by the store to pick up dinner because his/her mother is coming for dinner! Then, you get to work and wouldn’t you know, there she is, Mrs. Negative Nu-nu. You know, the one that could have made Gandhi choke her out! You are thinking, “One more word and I am going to jump on her like a Spider Monkey! Breathe, urgh, breathe!’ We all have this person in our lives, some of us have more than one!

Difficult people are everywhere! It doesn’t matter what is being done or said, they will have something to say! You just made an amazing sale and here comes Nasty Neil to let you know that he knows somebody that has worked with the same company and got burned blah blah blah! They have something to say, but never anything encouraging or really even pleasant. You just received a promotion at work and here comes your sister to let you know that she has clearly done better than you and mostly everybody she knows has too. They are everywhere, but it is time that they are put in their places! The next time she/he comes at you with this nonsense, reach back, way back, and pull out one of the tools (not one that locks and loads) but one I am going to share with you! This is how you find out the strength and kindness you possess. Anybody can be kind and positive while surrounded by like people, the challenge comes when the opposite rears its ugly head!

Next time you are faced with this person, before you react it will be very helpful and most likely event changing if you handle it with one of the 10 suggestions I am listing.

10 Best Ways to Handle Difficult People

Look at them with sympathy

These are clearly miserable people, right? If you are sympathetic towards them for clearly being unhappy, sad, and insecure…you really can’t snap back at them because you would be lowering yourself to their misery. Think of them as somebody that will benefit greatly from your kindness, they just don’t know it yet!

Be empathetic

Learn about this person and what makes him/her a bitter peach. What is it about them that created such a negative, sad person? Once you get an understanding of the person, you can then maintain your cool as you swiftly go around their snide comments or actions. You never know, you may be able to relate to them more?

Breathe and count to 3

Negative people thrive on positive people having negative reactions to what was said or done. It is as if they have brought you to the dark side and earned a point! Next time you are faced with this situation, BEFORE you react, breathe and count to 3. This will allow you to quickly regain focus and maintain the positive person that you are. It will also give the difficult person nothing to grip onto! They are only left feeling foolish for saying or doing something like they did. Do not react in a negative way. It is very important for you to remain positive.

Have a sit down with them

Confront this issue head on. Have a one on one sit down and speak with them about what is going on in their life that is making them feel so negative. Do not give them a reason to get defensive. If you need to make up a story that relates to this situation, do it. There is nothing wrong with telling a story, it will allow them to feel included and free to open up. People do not want to be unhappy, they crave happiness and inclusion, some just don’t know how to obtain it so they choose misery instead…there is less chance of being hurt if you are already living in misery. When you take the time to learn about somebody, they will feel the kindness and be more inclined to change. Some people don’t even know that it is an issue! The conversation starts out awkward but will turn out well!

Include them

This is a lot to ask most people. People do not want to be the person that everybody avoids like the plague. They will tell you that they prefer to be alone and that’s why they are nasty to people. Bull crap! These people crave approval and inclusion more than any outwardly happy person. If you are dealing with a difficult person at work, include them on any gathering that occurs. When they decline, invite them to the next and the next and so on. The same with a family member, continually invite them until they accept. In their mind they have an image to uphold (the armor that has kept them miserable all this time). It is very scary for them to allow themselves to become vulnerable. Help them by including them.

Smother them with kindness

This is not a competition so don’t kill them with kindness, just wrap it around them. Be consistently kind to them, even through the times that they will resist you…and they will. You are a kind person and this is your time to really show it. People that are consistently difficult truly need your kindness the most. Do not be put off by their reactions, keep pushing forward with kindness. It will break down their walls eventually and will be totally worth it! Maybe you are the first person in a long time to actually show this person kindness?

Ask questions

When a difficult person blurts out a negative thing or does something that sucks, ask them why! Why do you say that? What made you do that? Who does that help? What did that action do to help with our goal? Ask them questions and let them hear themselves out loud. This is a way for them to be called out and realize that their actions are putting a damper on what is trying to be accomplished. These aren’t people that are going to think it is awesome to sit there and discuss why they said what and what’s the reason they did that…they will stop reacting in a negative way just to avoid the questions!

Remember, their attitude is their choice

It is very important for you to remember that everybody truly has a choice on their attitude. You should do everything you can to help others but at the end of the day, each person is able to choose their attitude. Never allow a difficult person to alter your positive attitude. You have a choice of the words you use, reactions and actions you pick to use, and the way you think…they have the same choice. You are solely in control of yourself, and cannot force another person to do anything that they do not choose to do. Keep being the kind, positive person that you are, regardless of others response!

Maintain a healthy distance

After you have continually put forth the effort to do everything that you can to be a shining light in this person’s life, and they are hell-bent on being difficult, it is time to create a healthy distance. This doesn’t mean that you cut them off entirely, just keep it to niceties; how is the weather? How is the family? If you work with them then simply interact when absolutely needed and make sure that you are keeping your positive attitude in high gear. It is your job to maintain your attitude but not to mold theirs. You have done what you can and they desire to be difficult still. You did what you could and that is all you can continue to do.

Learn from them

Difficult people are super people to learn exactly what you do not want to be. A few things happen from you learning from them; you will be able to learn more about them, figure out what parts of you resemble in them and rectify it, and most importantly do not repeat it! Using them as a learning experience will also allow you to handle them easier because they now are serving a purpose for you in a positive way!

Keep in mind that how you handle difficult people will reveal loads about you and how others handle the situation reveals loads about them…never confuse the two! Be grateful that you are living a life that you are positive, hopeful, and excited about. Never allow anybody to take your shine and never pass up an opportunity to let your light shine on somebody else! You are amazing and have the power to change the world one kind act at a time, get out and show the world what you are made of! #bestadvice #leadership


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About Debbie Dickerson (15 Articles)
Debbie is a result focused Coach that has turned extensive Life, Business, Leadership, Recruiting, and Sales experience into a successful Coaching service that has and will continue to change many lives around the globe. Debbie's no excuse policy, along with the way she understands, communicates, and inspires people of every walk of life, is why she gets the results her client’s desire. She speaks in a way that is easily understood and applicable into each individual’s lives. Debbie listens to what her clients say and customizes her coaching accordingly. Debbie created Trifecta Executive Coaching in 2013. Her mission is to be the person that inspires and motivates people to achieve their goals. She holds her client’s accountable and pushes them hard to achieve a positive, results oriented and joyful life!
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