Thoughts From A Psychotherapist

Seven tips for dealing with difficult people

  1. Stay calm: If you get upset it will only escalate the situation.  Some difficult people may be trying to get you upset so they will be rewarded if you do so. 
  1. Be non-defensive:  When we feel attacked often one of the first things we do is try and defend ourselves.  This often escalates the situation and also keeps us from listening to the other person.  This is a great time to use your “I” statements.  Remember as soon as you say “you” you will lose the other person as they will immediately become defensive. 
  1. Get support: Get support from people who understand the situation. 
  1. Try to understand where the other person is coming from: Often difficult people are coming from a place of feeling not heard.  Try to listen to them and validate their responses.  You can say “I hear you” without saying “I agree with you”. 
  1. Remember you can only change your response:  You do not have control over any aspect of the situation other than your own response.  The other person may always be a challenge for you to deal with; however you do not have to get upset every time you deal with them. 
  1. Be assertive: Don’t let yourself be pushed around.  You can be firm without being overbearing.  If you always give in the person will come to expect that as your normal response which will make asserting yourself later even more challenging.
  1. Ignore them: This isn’t always something you can do, but when appropriate you can just ignore the other person.  We don’t always have to engage with people and prove that we are right. 
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