4 Tips to Help You Deal with Difficult People

difficultYou’ve met them before; maybe they are your friends, family members, co-workers or customers…they…are difficult people. Being that we can’t control how other people act, it is critical that we have some tools in our toolbox to help us cope with their difficult behavior when it rears its ugly head. In other words, what should you do if someone in your life is being irrational? Before we address the tools, read on about what types of difficult people are out there and see if you can identify any of them in your life.


The Kids…These are adults who act like kids because they feel like kids inside. They may have chronologically grown, but they are not emotionally evolved at all. People like this have a tough time taking responsibility for their own actions and blame others instead. They also tend to make excuses and complain often.


The Time Bombs…These are people who are quick to lose their tempers. They may bully others, be verbally abusive, and/or seem to make no sense at all when in a ‘temper tantrum’ or rageful outburst.


The Party Poopers…People like this tend to be negative about most things in their lives. The unfortunate part is that it likely stems from fears/anxieties but it manifests in being pessimistic. For example, if your friend keeps pointing out why you shouldn’t go on vacation (e.g; it may rain; flight could be delayed, what if they lose your luggage…), it is possible your friend is simply a nervous traveler and is projecting that onto you.


The Centers of the Universe…These are self-centered folks who can only see themselves and how life affects them; not those around them. These people often have a hard time having compassion for others and typically like to have the power and control in a situation.


While there are many other difficult personalities, this article is focused on these four. Here are four tips to help with each of them…


  1. Regarding ‘The Kids’…Being as respectful as you can be, you can remind them of their strengths and act surprised by their behavior; especially if this occurs in a workplace.
  2. With ‘The Time Bombs’…Stay calm yourself. Do not allow their behavior determine how you will act. Instead, gently ask the person losing their ‘cool’ to stop in the moment. If they are out of control and unsafe, do what you need to do to get yourself safe. But, if on the other hand, they are ‘acting out’, simply call them out on it.
  3. For the party poopers, you can question why they choose to focus on the negative. Further, you can add that you like to choose to focus on the positives.
  4. Your best bet with ‘Centers of the Universe’ is to ignore and not ‘feed’ their ego. If this is in a business situation, stay on task without going off on a tangent.


Overall, we don’t ever have control over the way anyone acts; and there will always be someone difficult around us at some point. Our goal is to choose wisely and consciously about how we want to respond. Ask yourself, what are you seeking from this relationship? Is it a sale? A romance? Or maybe to simply get through a family dinner? Whatever it is, you want to be able to be proud of the way you handle yourself…it is all you have control over.