7 Effective ways for dealing with difficult people

difficult people

Life will always present us with awkward, difficult people; and unless you want to live in a Himalayan cave you will have to learn how to deal with these people. We should not let difficult people spoil our inner equanimity; with the right attitude we can maintain our peace of mind even when dealing with unpleasant people. These are some suggestions for dealing with awkward people.

1. Don’t Think about Them All the Time

Sometimes when people cause us difficulties they start to dominate our thoughts; this makes their presence seem very close. However, it is best to think about them as little as possible. Instead, concentrate on things and people who inspire you. Thinking about difficult people is not going to change how they behave, but it will cause us unhappiness.

2. Don’t Expect to Change Them.

Awkward and unpleasant people are the least likely to be willing to change themselves. Don’t take it upon yourself to try and change their behaviour; you will all most certainly fail. Furthermore, they will probably resent your interference and this will create further difficulties. Instead we can maintain a cheerful detachment. If we don’t have any expectations, it becomes much easier to deal with.

3. Don’t feel guilt

If people create problems in our life we can start to feel guilty, even though we have done nothing wrong. In cases like this
we have to be detached; it is not our fault problems are created. As long as we seek to maintain a good attitude, that is all that matters.

If you want to transform your life
Radically,
Then immediately give up
Your false sense of teeming guilt.

Sri Chinmoy [1]

4. Silence is a powerful weapon.

When people say unreasonable things, the natural instinct is to try and argue with them. However, this draws us into their weird perspective. In many circumstances, it may be appropriate to maintain silence and not respond to what they say and do. By being silent, we are effectively ignoring them without having to criticise their actions. In silence their is great power; when we ignore them, they lose influence. Silence also gives us time to think a more measured and detached response, for later.

5. Retain your Humour.

Don’t feel obliged to take every situation seriously. Try to see the funny side. If people behave in a ridiculous way, don’t despair – just see the absurd behaviour as a humorous situation. The comical aspect of the TV programme, The Office came simply from ordinary people behaving in unreasonable ways.

6. Don’t seek to Avoid them

If you have to work with a difficult people, the solution is rarely to move job. The likelihood is that you will find difficult people wherever you work. If you try to avoid difficult people, you will be permanently on the move. The thing to do is to change your attitude; rather than feeling depressed and guilty, we can see it is an opportunity for our self improvement. Through learning to deal with difficulty people, we will learn many valuable life skills.

6. Offer Goodwill.

If we can offer goodwill even to difficult people, we will make tremendous progress. Unpleasant people may deserve criticism, but, this will not help the situation. Even the most difficult person may have one or two good qualities. Try to mentions these; subconsciously they will appreciate our goodwill. This remains the most effective way to bring out the best in others – even if it may seem to take a very long time.

7. Don’t Try to Impress or Gain favour

Sometimes, whatever we do, people will look at the negative side and criticise us. This can cause us to seek even harder to seek their approval. But, this can cause us to ignore our basic values, and sometimes even if we change, we still don’t gain their approval anyway. There is much more dignity in being true to ourselves, and being happy with our choices. If some difficult people don’t appreciate our actions, no harm. We can never expect to receive everyone’s approval.

Photo by: Ranjit Swanson, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries

[1] Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 40, Agni Press, 1982.

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30 thoughts on “7 Effective ways for dealing with difficult people”

  1. Thank you for the post..it do help me, as i am in a deep deperession in dealing with a very difficult person. But what make it worst is that person is my own sister..how could i handle it?

  2. It is hard to give advice!

    But try to be a little detached. If she behaves badly, don’t feel it is your fault. You will inwardly offer her goodwill, but, also you have to live your own life and seek your own happiness.

    Make sure you spend some time with people who you enjoy their company

    Also don’t expect to change her, even though she is your own sister, people rarely listen to our advice. Again we need a little detachment

    Good luck, and try to see it as an opportunity to learn patience / tolerance (easier said than done.)

  3. i appreciate so much your advise, especially when you said that i should live my own life as i always feel that it is wrong for me to live my own life and detach from her as i believe that it would make me to be a terrible sister. But what you said IS UNDENIABLE.sometimes i feel tired of keep worrying about her though she is matured enough. now, i would move on with my life..and for that THANK YOU!

  4. The funny thing is that if you can be a little more detached and cultivate more happiness in your own life – you will probably be more help to your sister.

    I think when we feel depressed we can’t help anyone. But, if we can gain more happiness, then we can actually start to inspire others, like your sister. – It may take time of course. 🙂

    Best,

    Tejvan

  5. Hi
    I have just started a job, the lady who sits next to my table is one of the four Team Manager in this office. I have taekn up her husband’s position who managed the same team , now I am managing. She never replies any of my question looking at my eyes. She has been very difficult in many situation and I am feeling very stressed.

  6. Hi, I am 40 yrs old engineer,
    I am dealing with a bully at work. He has tried to intimidate me fisically and shouted and insulted at me in public. Although I am confident enough of my physical resources, I dont consider this an alternative nor a way. What really worries me is that he has the backing and consentment of a whole group of young people… one of them my direct boss. It is a very compromissed situation, I dont find “power” resources or contacts, I have been less than two years at this job, but I am very qualified… I think I represent a threat for some of them… otherwise, I dont understand why is this happening.
    Thanks

  7. Hi All, Tejvan – I agree that we must detach a bit in difficult situations. We have to surround ourselves with people who do appreciate us and things that will make us happy. Sometimes though, it is very hard to do what I just wrote.

    I am going through a very terrible time in my own life right now, it has been a living hell. I am dealing with a soon to be ex who tells lies after lies. There is a small group of people surrounding this person who have also lied for this person. They have gone as far as perjuring themselves in order to make the outcome a good one for my soon to be ex. Personally, had I paid attention to the little details, documented the details and done the homework prior to all of this, basically paid attention – I would not be in the situation I am in. I let people get away with things, did not confront them when I should have and I did not stand my ground. I should have been more aggresive, direct with what I wanted and put people right in their places when they did the things that made me uncomfortable. What I did instead was get angry. Then I ended up in depression. Anger turned inward is depression. I have decided to take a stand, stand in my truth, fight back and not waiver in my decision. These people do not matter to me, in several years from now – they won’t even be in my memory bank. I think self respect is standing up for yourself, believing in yourself and knowing what is right and wrong. By the way, I am toning down my constant chatter. I am listening a little better and I am moving forward. I hope this helps some of you. Never allow ANYONE to get the best of you. Never allow anyone to lie to you without calling them on it, never allow anyone to come into your life who does not bring you peace and harmony. If they can’t do these things for you, run – fast as you can and get away!

  8. Thank you! That has been very useful. I love what you say about how enhancing your own happiness will ultimately work twice over – by protecting your own mental/emotional health and inspiring that problem person.

    I have great sympathy for Firefly as I am dealing with a similar situation – it’s all too easy to sink into a vicious spiral of negativity. It’s so hard to detach.

    When we deal with difficult family members, I think disappointment is a really strong emotion – we all have ideas of what sisters, for example, should be, and when the reality is very different, there’s a lot of sadness, disappointment and even a sense of guilt. It’s so very important to learn to detach from those sapping emotions. Will try harder!

    Many thanks, again.

  9. Thnx for the wonderful write up. i’m dealing with a new boss as well as my husband who is a difficult percon to deal with, add to it his parents. all they know to do is boost his ego & therefore he is the most ego centric person i’v met. he has a 6yr old gal frm his previous marraige & now she’s being brought up the same way. its so difficult at times to even be in the house. i’m expecting & now at times i wonder how will i be able to bring up the new one in a better way..i work so all the more wud hv to depend on my in laws. any suggestions ?

  10. Thank you. My pain in dealing with difficult people often seems to come from situations where the person seems to be working on shifting their responsibilities onto me. Often in very subtle and subconscious ways – I find the controlling very difficult to deal with and it then expands into the kinds of difficulties that you give solutions for above. I am wondering if there is any advice on how to solve this fundamental problem of controlling behaviour (whether the person is doing it consciously or subconsciously) is there any attitude or habit I could develop that would make me less vulnerable to the entanglements caused by ‘responsibility manippulation’?

  11. I am dealing with an emotional dependent and controlling person who has taken away who I am and has made me a very unhappy person. It is done in a subtle way

  12. I know the feeling, where you feel the person is keeping you down, not allowing you do breathe freely. Often times, them putting their responsibilities onto you is because they just don’t know how to deal with alone. Having said this, take this carefully. Don’t run away but don’t stay in this position you’re in. Instead, try gradually to help the situation, politely make them aware that you as well have a lot on your plate and made need some time for yourself. Don’t take their comments so seriously all the time. If it gets to a certain point where you are completely overwhelmed, suggest they see someone professional, or see someone yourself so that you can acquire the right tools.

    In terms of daily habits…When the person says it was your fault something bad happened, or projects their responsibilities onto you, take a deep breathe and explain calmly and logically what the real situation is.
    Don’t avoid them or change your daily routine because of them. Sometimes just explaining what you’re feeling and listening to them can resolve a lot of misunderstanding.

  13. i cant handle my girl freind behaviour.she always try 2 make things very harsh.what can i do?
    thank u first

  14. I’m with you Shereen. I have such a person in my life who makes me feel bad and feel like everything I do and am is wrong. My situation is worsen by his twin brother who is same. The twin’s wife is meek and follows whatever her husband says. That is apparently a good wife. On the other hand , I’m not a puppet. I have had a life of my own and am very capable. However being married to a controlling person has eroded my sense of self. He tries to isolate me from my family and does not like it when I want to go out with friends. He has no real close friends, maybe he doesn’t want them to find out the real controlling, insecure person underneath. I can never predict how he will be from day to day. Even small things can bring on a huge tirade. He is very disrespectful even to his own mother. And what they say about seeing how a man treats his mother is so true. He will end up treating you the same way in the long run. If anyone has children, tell your children never to marry someone who has a twin. And look at how he treats his mother. As for me I’m beyond explaining my feelings to an irrational, delusional and unstable person. I will try to not react to his tirades but we’ll see. He has physically hurt me before and even blames it on me. I would like to leave this person but I know he will make life difficult for me if I do. So is there anything I can slip in to his tea to make him more stable?? Just kidding. Good luck to all of who has a difficult person in their life.

  15. Thanks everybody…reading all the thoughts u expressed really cools me done and encourage me to take hold of my life.AS i read in one of the books that our mind is like a Garden we nourish,so we must not let others people temper with it.

  16. This is probably one of my favorite articles online! I constantly am re-reading it because it really does help me! I just wanted to thank you for writing an amazing article and if you happen to come up with more ideas, you should definitely update this article! 🙂

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