Mandy Kloppers

How to deal with difficult people

There’s just no reasoning with some people. I know a few who are very moody and difficult to communicate with. When things don’t go their way, they go into ‘child mode’ and behave in an unreasonable way. People who are in healthy ‘adult mode’ will be able to discuss issues and take resonsibility for their own actions. A person in child mode sees themself as a victim and lacks empathy for the other person’s perspective. Seeing as difficult people are more difficult to communicate with, here are some useful tips on how to deal with them:

Don’t make it about who is right or wrong

Difficult people close down when the discussion is about blame. Rather look for solutions that can help you both move forward. More often than not, a difficult person will feel they have been wronged and will find it more difficult to understand the other person’s perspective. This is usually a waste of time.  Instead, try to find solutions for the problem.

Keep it concise

Get to the point with a difficult person. Don’t get into long explanations. Decide what the aim of the conversation is and stick to that goal. The more you try to reason with a difficult person, the more you will muddy the waters and move further away from what you want. Be direct and be firm and ask for what you want. Don’t be apologetic – they will see this as a sign of weakness.

Know their ‘triggers’

It helps to know what upsets a difficult person and to try avoid these scenarios where possible. This may seem as if you are making an effort to appease them but in some ways, it is easier to adapt your own behaviour than to expect an unreasonable difficult person to change.

Don’t be a doormat

It may be tempting to give in to a difficult person and put your own needs on hold in order to keep the peace. In the long term this is an unwise decision. It may be a good idea to avoid trigger situations but it is important to stand up for yourself if the difficult person you are dealing with is insulting you or demeaning you. This is different and must not go unnoticed. Always make a point of acknowledging this type of behaviour. You teach people how to treat you and if you let disrespectful behaviour continue, it will only escalate. A difficult person will respect you in the long run. Being assertive does not mean being aggressive. Look for a win-win situation where you both get your needs met.

Limit time with difficult people where possible

If you are in a relationship with someone who is consistently difficult, you may want to ask yourself why you stay in such an unsatisfactory situation. Life is too short to have such a poor quality of life. If the difficult person in your life is a family member or colleague, it will be easier to manage the time you spend with them. Difficult people are emotionally draining!

The world is full of difficult people. Knowing how to deal with them can make life a lot easier, simpler and more satisfying!

Mandy X