How to Deal with Difficult People Successfully

Tue, May 18, 2010

Self Help Motivation

 If I had my way I would rather not  deal with difficult people but that’s sounds almost impossible and here is why. As long as we have contact directly or indirectly with others we are bound to come across difficult people. Our ability to deal with difficult people hence comes in once we recognise these set of people and develop strategies to cope and avoid falling into the trap of thinking “is it me or them “…. From my little experience , dealing with difficult people is an act and once the basic skills are mastered sky is the limit. I suppose in saying that it’s only sensible to identify who falls under the category of difficult people but mind you every now and then we may been seen as difficult for whatever reasons or simply due to a current situation or circumstance . Just a note here;we are not all perfect but some of us are more mindful of our behaviours than others …okay I am blabbing on Now!

So what are some characteristics of difficult people and how do you deal with difficult people?

1, Hostile and aggressive aka the tank: the tank is confrontational, pushy, bullies, hostile and enjoys belittling you in front of everyone. These set of people will most certainly provoke and antagonise you to the point  where you either become confrontational like them or freeze and become uncomfortable around them.

Action Plan: with the tank you must stand your ground; put your point across calmly and where possible maintain eye contact whilst doing so. if unable to hold eye contact focus on your breathing and continue with your point.

2, The sniper: are very good at identifying  your weakness and using it against you. They will do so behind your back or pass rude comments and make sarcastic remarks to make you look foolish. I generally find them easy to tackle because they also have  weakness which is  their ability to hide behind other people’s weakness.

Action plan: Find a common ground; when they come up with their remakes asks them politely what they mean. You could further question what they have  to say and ask them what has that got to do with the situation at hand? Some people prefer asking these questions in private but I have found doing it in the open is overwhemingly effective but this  obviously depends on the circumstance.

3,The Know it all : This person supposedly knows everything  if not 99% of everything ; they will spend hours telling you all you need to know but will not take a moment to listen to you . I suppose they   just like the sound of their own voice and other people voices  including ideas are inferior to them .

Action Plan: simple if you are up to it be prepared to know your stuff, the know- it -all can pick on your short comings to discredit you and they have little patience’s for others , so  be sure to  put your point across and make it brief and concise.

4, The Nothing person : You will love to hate these people ; they tell you nothing as their lips are generally sealed and you wouldn’t know what’s going on inside their heads!

Action Plan : Ask open ended questions, use humour and where possible show them the future .

5,The may-be person: in the event of decision making the may- be person(s) procrastinates in the hope that a better choice may present itself . But there comes a point when the decision makes itself ;then it’s nobody’s default but their own

Action plan: Clarify options and explore the may-be –person’s point(s) of view.

The ability to deal with difficult people can be learnt but also requires practice. Like I have mentioned above we are bound to come across theses people not just at work but  perhaps all areas of life  The beauty ,however,  is that once we master the skills of how to deal with difficult people  we feel less distressed in our engagement with others.


Brinkman , R & Kirschner (2002)  International Bestseller; Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst

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