How To Deal With The Most Difficult People In Your Life

How To Deal With The Most Difficult People In Your Life

Some people just know how to get your blood boiling, and they seem to relish any opportunity to do so. It’s great if you can delete and block them on your phone, but that’s not always possible. If you’re stuck with them, like if they’re family members or co-workers, you’re going to have to learn effective ways of dealing with them, like these 15 tips. Don’t let them get you down!

1. Don’t forget to breathe.

One of the most important tips for dealing with a difficult person is to avoid reacting to them. By showing them your anger or frustration, you’re handing your power to them — and probably giving them something they can use against you. So, take a deep breath and stay calm!

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2. Use more neutral statements to keep conversations/situations from escalating.

Once you’re on more of an even keel, you can use your calmness as a superpower to help the other person chill out a bit too. How? By using calming statements, such as “Tell me more about what you’re worried about” or “Tell me how you’re feeling.” Even something as simple as, “I respect what you’re saying” can help to prevent an emotional outburst from a drama king or queen, Inc. explains.

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3.  Focus on solving the problem.

Some difficult people become super combative or argumentative during stressful times. Avoid being their human punching bag by trying to focus on the problem at hand. You can do this by saying something like, “Let’s think about what we can do” when they go off on a tangent, instead of engaging in an argument that doesn’t solve anything.

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4. Lead with curiosity.

A hack for turning stressful situations with a difficult person around is to focus on being curious about what they’re really like deep down. Pay attention to their words and body language, and try to learn more about them, such as their motivations and what drives them. This will help you to become interested in them instead of feeling drained by them. It’s so much more positive.

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5. Be empathetic.

It’s not always easy to acknowledge and understand the other person’s emotions, especially if you don’t have much patience for them. That being said, understanding them can help you to see things through their eyes, which can improve your relationship with them. Focus on the bigger picture!

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6. Set boundaries.

Having firm boundaries in place is a must to maintain your sanity and mental health. So, for example, if a difficult friend puts you down and makes you feel bad about yourself, talking to them about how they make you feel and being clear about what you won’t tolerate in your friendship will help you nip their bad behavior in the bud.

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7. Confide in someone else.

It’s really important to reach out to people you trust when the stress of dealing with the difficult person gets to be too much. It gives you the chance to talk and vent about what you’re going through. It feels good to get it off your chest, right? It also helps you gain a fresh perspective on the situation.

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8. Look after yourself.

People can be taxing on your mental health, so you want to stick to a routine of self-care. When the person’s not around, do things that make you feel happy and good, instead of falling into the trap of overthinking your interactions with them. That will make you feel like they’re always around even when they’re not, like a giant ball of negative energy. You don’t need that.

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9. Try to find your humor.

Finding the funny side of challenging situations can help you a lot when dealing with difficult people, The American Institute of Stress advises. Consider cracking a joke to make you both laugh, as this can diffuse the tension. It brings a lighter perspective to the situation, while helping you to not take on the person’s drama. It’s not yours to carry!

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10. Set a time limit.

You might not be able to cut the person out of your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to be at their beck and call. Set healthy time limits so they don’t overwhelm your day and add to your stress levels. For example, if you can’t get out of a call with a toxic friend, give yourself five minutes to chat to them, then end the conversation and go do something else.

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11. Use “I” statements.

Difficult people test your patience, but don’t let them get the satisfaction of pushing you over the edge. During communication, use “I” statements, such as “I feel…” or “I think…” This prevents you from attacking them and making the stressful situation worse.

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12. Be willing to compromise.

two women chatting on a couch

Meeting the other person halfway, even if it feels challenging, is a good way to approach your interactions with them. Focus on solving the problem at hand and see yourselves as being on the same team so you calm negative emotional responses.

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13. Analyze your triggers.

Exploring what it is about the person that makes you feel so angry or stressed can help you deal with underlying issues at play. Instead of reacting emotionally to them, you can deal with the origins of the frustration instead. This is a game changer because it will make the person less triggering for you.

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14. Use facts to bring about change.

Male and female colleagues looking at tablet PC. Business people are working at desk. They are sitting in textile factory.

Emotions can intensify dealings with a difficult person, so it’s better to focus on facts to get a positive resolution. For example, if you want your lazy roommate to pull their weight, calmly remind them of how you’re doing all the cooking and cleaning, and it’s too taxing. Then, ask if they could meet you halfway by taking on some chores.

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15. Stop taking their behavior personally.

It’s easy to let someone’s hurtful comments upset you, but remember: it’s not about you! This person has their issues to deal with, and chances are they’re probably frustrating a lot of people. When you stop taking things personally, you can better deal with them and not let the person bum you out.

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Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.
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