Have you ever had to deal with a difficult person?
They can be unreasonable, impatient, judgmental, and haughty. When dealing with difficult people, it can be hard to walk away with anything but frustration.
The truth is, dealing with difficult people is an art form. And there are ways you can learn to diffuse the tension of the situation without losing your cool.
Here are 10 helpful tips for dealing with difficult people.
How To Deal With Difficult People
Do your interactions with difficult people turn into screaming matches? If so, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
The next time you have to deal with a difficult person, try a few of these techniques:
Listening to the other person is the first step. And this means that you really need to focus on what the other person is saying.
Everyone needs to feel like they’re being heard. And you may not get anywhere until the person feels acknowledged.
Practice active listening skills and do your best to be impartial and respectful.
2. Keep calm
You may hear some provocative things. But don’t rise to the occasion.
It’s easy to get caught up in an emotional moment. Instead, take a few deep breaths.
3. Resist judgment
Do you have a running commentary in your head? Try not to judge. You don’t know what the other person is going through.
And the person may be afraid of vulnerability if they’re acting unreasonably.
4. Show respect
Ever heard the saying, “You get what you give”? Even if a person is treating you poorly, responding at that level is counterproductive.
Don’t suppress your feelings. Merely acknowledge and accept your emotional response and move on from it.
5. Hidden needs
There’s usually a reason someone is behaving the way they are. Are they stressed out? Filled with anxiety?
Listen to what they’re saying and look for their hidden needs.
6. Seek help
You may need some help if you’re dealing with difficult people at work.
If you need backup, don’t be afraid to look for a colleague. They may be able to help you diffuse the situation.
7. Refrain from demanding compliance
When someone is emotionally revved up, the last thing they want is to be told to calm down.
Not only is that disrespectful of their feelings, but it’s also a quick way to escalate the situation.
Let the person vent. Or take them to an area where they can do so safely without disturbing others.
8. Don’t smile
Can humor diffuse a situation? Sure. But ill-timed humor can come off as disrespectful and mocking.
If someone is worked up, read the situation before you crack a joke. The other person may think that you’re not taking them seriously.
9. Keep your defense under wraps
This one may take practice. But resist the urge to enter into battle.
You’re going to want to defend yourself. But remind yourself that this isn’t about you. Try not to take it personally.
10. Focus on solutions
Lastly, focus on solutions. If you’ve practiced the other techniques, you may have an inkling what the hidden need is. So, instead of focusing on the offense, take a step back.
Your focus drives your emotional regulation. If you only think of the problem, you may be overwhelmed with negative emotions.
Instead, put yourself in control of your emotional state.
Focusing on the other person’s actions can create a negative emotional spiral.
On the other hand, shifting focus to a solution can help your sense of self-efficiency and control. And that, in turn, can create positive feelings in a negative situation.
A final thought
Create the emotions that you most like to experience.
– Jon Butcher, Author of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Program
Can you create a positive experience when dealing with difficult people? Maybe not at first. But practice makes perfect.
You may not be able to change the other person’s mind or perspective. But you can still learn to turn negative experiences around by actively listening, looking for hidden needs, and responding with impartiality.
Do you have any strategies for dealing with difficult people? Share them below.