It is not very easy to deal with difficult people, that’s for sure. Let’s imagine the next situation. Your boss instructed you to head your team of four, organize a meeting, plan a product launch, and “ensure that it is 100% successful.” You and two of the team members are easygoing, but the other one is problematic. In fact, they’re such difficult people that they are hard to deal with.
For one thing, in fact, they do not have any ideas on how to make this project flawless. For another, they do not agree with your options and are ready to contest everything that you offer. They are bossy. They are explosive and emotional. They want to hijack the meeting. They want their opinions to be held supreme. They will do anything to get their way.
You need actionable tips to help you manage difficult folks, whether at home or at work, so you can focus on getting things done. This article will provide you with five surprising ways to deal with difficult people.
1. Don’t take them seriously
A difficult relative, friend, or co-worker can be exhausting:
- They always have something ruthless to say.
- They like to criticize.
- They name-drop and judge people.
But trust me, you can still work and live with a difficult person without losing yourself. How do you do that?
Don’t take them seriously. Here’s why:
Difficult folks are weird. When I was in college, my difficult classmate would shout at me if I yawned in front of him, pretend to not hear what I was saying (if what I said conflicted with his opinion), and get angry whenever I stopped to say hi to my friends.
For a year or two, I fought with. I tried blocking his calls, but he harassed me from new numbers. At first, I couldn’t tell who was making the calls, so I looked up the numbers to get the name. After repeating this process several times, I finally realized that I couldn’t change him. So I started taking him less seriously.
Instead of getting angry when he shouted at me, I just pretended that I didn’t hear him. I started ignoring his negative comments and attitude, and it was a big relief.
You, too, can do this. Stop taking your difficult friend or coworker seriously, and you won’t mind their weird attitude. Instead, try to understand their true intentions so you can live with them more peacefully.
2. Try to understand them
Difficult people are not difficult just because they’re bad people. The majority of the difficult people are good —they just can’t control their hot-tempered, difficult character.
When interacting with them, your job is to understand their true intentions, not pound on them any time they do something that you’re not happy with. “For example, sometimes [the bossy difficult folks, also known as the] ‘Tanks’ just want to explain their opinion,” Venessa Van Edwards, the lead investigator at the Science of People, said. “If you let them talk to you, that might help them not blow up or try to dominate a situation.”
It might not be easy for you, but it is easier and smoother to interact with them this way.
I once nearly hit my difficult-to-deal-with friend after he told me that I should stop talking to him “when you’re with those irresponsible boys,” referring to some of my relatives.
I told myself, “I’ll wait until after school… then I’ll beat him up.” But after school, I reminded myself, “Well, that’s how the guy talks anyway. Let me just disregard him…” Hardly so, he wanted to hurt or offend someone, maybe he was just jealous or trying to attract my attention.
3. Ignore them when they’re being unbearable
One of the best ways to deal with difficult people is simply to ignore them.
Just overlook their presence or actions, even when you’re in a close working relationship with them. For example, assuming you have a tough-to-handle colleague at work and they happen to be part of your team, there are two ways to disregard them despite your intimate rapport:
- Don’t engage them in communication. It’s okay to greet them as you enter your work area or reply to them when they initiate a greeting. However, for the rest of your working hours, focus on your work without engaging them in any kind of conversation.
- Don’t pay attention to their behaviour. When you’re working with them to execute a project, for example, chances are they’ll do something that you’ll hate. Still, pay no attention to it. Keep calm and keep working.
That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, not really. Difficult folks are really good at getting on your nerves. They’ll upset you, I promise, but you need to be patient to quench both your anger and their shenanigans.
4. Suppress them with patience
No matter what options there are to deal with difficult people, all of the options may sometimes fail you. When you’re angry, for example, you can’t just ignore a condescending remark from a difficult coworker. You’ll blow up at them with a powerful response. But patience will work wonders for you and will never fail you.
It is the best tool for suppressing your anger and dealing with difficult folks. The best way to cultivate patience when dealing with difficult people is to first take a deep breath whenever they strike.
Next, don’t immediately utter a response or take an action when a difficult neighbour or colleague upsets you. Wait until your anger wanes. Finally, pay less attention to them—as much as you can.
5. Always stay calm when you’re in their vicinity
You can’t deal with difficult people by being difficult. You deal with difficult people by being calm. I see a lot of people making the mistake of turning on “beast mode” as soon as they’re in the midst of their difficult acquaintances.
They suddenly stop smiling, look grim, and rage at the other party for the slightest incident. In short, they become difficult people too, and their entire world becomes a war zone. That’s not the right way to go.
The right way is simply to remain calm in the company of such a person:
- When the difficult colleague has an uninviting face, you smile.
- When the difficult colleague makes rude comments, you keep calm and continue working.
- When the difficult colleague doesn’t cooperate, you ignore them and do your own part.
Remember, you’re not them.
As you have already understood to find a common language or at least learn to calmly treat such people is very difficult. Perhaps the most important rule is not to be like them.
You? You should always be simple, easy going, and positive. You conquer a difficult person and their behaviour with these five tips.