There are lots of people in the world today. Some are very nice and pleasant. Others, very difficult and a pain to deal with. And there’s no doubt you’ve encountered a few or A LOT of difficult people since you were born.
Some of the time, these people put you in certain places where you’re unsure of what to do next; whether to bring out the inner lunatic in you or just take the calm route and be ‘the bigger person’
The interesting thing is that some people have no idea that others find it uncomfortable being around them. So if you’re wondering who exactly can be considered a ‘difficult’ person (or if you think you might be difficult to relate with, here are some characteristics)
Difficult people tend to:
- Complain a lot
- Constantly have something negative to say
- Like to compare themselves with others especially in things they’re better at
- Almost impossible to please
- Very wilful and would have things go no other way than theirs
- Always point out the wrongs in situations and people with little thought for what’s done right
- Care only about themselves and how things benefit them
These are just a few of the characteristics of difficult people. There are lots more!
How exactly do you deal with such difficult people?
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie
As much as it’s satisfying to put these trying people in their place and give them a piece of your mind, that isn’t the best way to handle situations with difficult people. Here are a few pointers that may help when dealing with someone difficult
Often, difficult people thrive off the reaction of others (either verbally or physically) to their actions. For example, naturally, anyone who notices you’re always interested in them recounting their achievements and accolades would continue simply because they think you like listening to it.
Imagine what someone who really doesn’t care if you’re interested would do if you show a little bit of interest.
If you find yourself having to deal with someone who enjoys boasting in light of others’ inabilities, you should politely steer the conversation in another direction. With words like:
‘… John, let’s discuss something else. What do you think about….?
Steer them on to other topics that you’re pretty sure they would have little to no opportunity to make it all about them and their advantage over others.
Treat them better than they treat you
Remember the popular saying ‘Treat others how you would like to be treated’
Well, it applies the most here. Again, as much as the ‘let them have a taste of their own medicine’ line pops into your head, it does no good in the long run.
If you treat difficult people the same way they treat you, they’d just assume that everyone acts that way. It becomes a norm and there’d be no room for change
Sometimes people have no idea they’re difficult to deal with. They truly don’t.
If you never have, make an attempt to politely let them know what you think about them. Be creative in saying so to avoid hurting their feelings. Your relationship with the difficult person matters. You don’t want to lose your job because you want to educate your difficult boss! Here’s an example of what you can say.
‘Rebecca, the colour of this sweater isn’t so bad. I don’t think others would be very excited to be around you if you hardly have nice things to say’
The tone you use also matters. Remember, calm without the intent to hurt.
They may storm out and not talk to you for days but trust me, they’re taking some time to think of the simple sentence you said to them a couple of days ago.
Practice the art of ‘Ignoring’
Learning to ignore certain things can be the best way to maintain peace and keep your sanity. I find thinking of other things I enjoy or pending tasks a great replacement for conversations I’m uninterested in.
Rather than joining someone who’s always negative to say the same, I focus on other things in my mind and leave them to express their constant pessimistic views to themselves.
Sometimes staying calm is a really great way of dealing with difficult people. Calm is always associated with peace and control. When you’re perceived as being calm, especially in situations where everyone lives in fear of the difficult person, you take away the edge the person has.
When it’s pretty clear that you’re not bothered by someone who’s very wilful, you’re able to present your contrary views in a clear and bold manner.
Try to understand their point of view
Sometimes, we may consider people difficult because they do not share the same views as we do. Ask yourself;
‘Am I considering this person difficult because they do not share the same opinions as me on several matters?’
Having several contrary opinions does not make a person difficult. It just simply means the person has very little in common with you, a different orientation and background.
If this is the case, try to understand the reasoning behind their point of view. You don’t have to accept it. You can even agree to disagree. But make an effort to see why they think that way. Don’t just peg them because you refuse to accept their train of thought.
We are constantly being put to the test by trying circumstances and difficult people and problems not necessarily of our own making.” – Terry Brooks
Above all, if your attempts to deal with a difficult person have proven fruitless and you see no chances of being able to have a cordial relationship with them in the future, spend as little time with them as you can. Because in the end your mental health matters and it’s not compulsory to stay around people who are toxic.