Dealing with Difficult People

Posted August 5, 2014 by Marie Arcidiacono in On the Ladder
people you dislike

How many of us have had to deal with “difficult people” in our day to day lives? You know, THAT person, the one that makes you want to claw at the walls and roll your eyes. I’m willing to guess that many of us have had to deal with these types of people before. As much as we may try to avoid them, it’s a fact of life that we will all eventually (and sometimes consistently) have to deal with “difficult people.” :Insert collective groan here:

Many times these “difficult people” emerge in the workplace, but they can also be a part of our everyday social life. You know them: that extended family member who can’t help but throw you a backhanded compliment every time you turn around, the friend of a friend who is constantly “one upping” you in conversations, and of course the person who is nice to your face but talks behind your back. Do any of these sound familiar? Probably.

Is there a perfect way to handle someone with a “difficult personality?” Unfortunately, the answer is no. What works for one person might not work for another. The key is finding what strategy works best for you, and helps you maintain your sanity.

3 Ways to Handle a Difficult Person:

  1. Avoid Them: Obviously this is not always a viable option. Hello needing to work together on a group project. However, if you can avoid this person it is in your best interest to do so. Why keep putting yourself in a position to be frustrated? It might be as simple as relocating your working space or just leaving the room when they enter. In all honesty avoidance can be a good short term solution. If you cannot avoid them then keep reading below.
  2. Say Something: Sometimes it’s best to have an open and honest conversation with the person, face-to-face (unless of course you are worried about your safety, if that is the case you are dealing with a completely different issue and one I am not qualified to offer insight on). I know that in today’s world it’s easier and more efficient to communicate via email or text message but you are really losing something when you use those methods. If someone is making your life difficult, especially at work, it is going to be most effective to speak with them face-to-face. When you are having this conversation you want to remain calm and factual. Getting emotional will not help the situation. Who knows, they might surprise you and actually take what you have to say to heart and fix their attitude. If this doesn’t work and/or they are not receptive to the conversation keep reading below.
  3. Kindness: When I was growing up I always heard the saying, “Kill them with kindness” when it came to dealing with someone who had a difficult personality. I also distinctly remember thinking that advice was bad and didn’t quite grasp what it meant and why it worked until I got a little older. When someone is really trying to get under my skin I take this advice to heart and go out of my way to be extra nice to that person. Is it hard to do? You bet it is, especially when I want nothing more than to come right back at them with negativity but at the end of the day I feel better about myself for not stooping to their level. Sometimes it’s best to just “grin and bear it” when it comes to that person who is always trying to push your buttons. In fact, once they see that they can’t get to you they might just quit all together.

Like I said, there is not perfect or right way to deal with a “difficult person” but you can try and find the best strategy for you.

You might not be able to control how these people act towards you but you can control how you react to people with “difficult personalities.” Always remember, stay classy ladies!

Share with me how you deal with a “difficult person.”

About the Author

Marie Arcidiacono

Marie is a Speech Communication professor who also coaches a debate team. She truly loves what she does and hopes to continue to teach for decades to come. In her "free time" she is an avid runner. Marie enjoys running a variety of distances, including the Half Marathon. She is dedicated to living as healthy a lifestyle as she can while balancing a very busy schedule. Marie loves to network and share ideas so writing for Career Girl Network is perfect for her. You can also read about her adventures on Why Not Girl!.