top of page

11 Ways to Deal with Difficult People

"Hey, can you please turn the music down? It's really loud."

"Why should I? I like it this way and it's my house."

"I don't care what you want, I'm going to do what I want anyway."

"I don't have time for this right now, can't you see I'm busy?"

"You're not the boss of me. I'll do what I want, when I want."

"I know I'm right, and I'm not going to back down."

We all have someone in our lives who just seems to drive us crazy. Whether they're annoying, frustrating, or downright exhausting. You can find them all around you, your workplace, family, friends or your next-door neighbor.

Difficult person

Yes, your neighbor who always parks their car in front of your house, even though there's plenty of parking space available closer to their own home. You've asked them politely to park elsewhere, but they continue to do it anyway.

Or your teammate who keeps delaying the project and refuse to take the responsibility. Well life is full of people who can make your life difficult and get on your nerves.

So, what should you do?

Here are few right strategies in place, to help you deal with them effectively. Before that have a look at what are the characteristics of difficult people:

Characteristics of a difficult person:

They are:

  • Confrontational

  • Competitive or stubborn

  • Quick to argue

  • Defensive

  • Hard time accepting feedback or criticism

  • Lack empathy.

  • Focused on their own needs and wants than on the needs of others.

  • Escalate conflicts rather than seeking to resolve them.

  • Prone to negative thinking or pessimism

  • Ready to imagine the worst in situations or be quick to assume the worst of others.

  • Difficult to build trust and establish a positive relationship.

These are the few characteristics, besides there are different types of them:

Type of difficult people:

Aggressive people:

They may be confrontational, argumentative, or even hostile. They may use insults, threats, or physical intimidation to get their way.

Passive-aggressive people:

They may seem friendly on the surface, but they often express their frustration or anger in indirect ways.

For example, they may make snarky comments, give the silent treatment, or purposely delay or sabotage tasks.

Know-it-all people:

Such people believe they know everything and may be dismissive of other people's ideas or opinions. They may be condescending, argumentative, or unwilling to listen to feedback.

Negative people:

They tend to focus on the negative aspects of situations and may be pessimistic or critical in their communication. They may complain frequently or be resistant to change.

Narcissistic people:

Narcissistic people often have an inflated sense of self-importance and may be preoccupied with themselves. They may be dismissive of other people's feelings or needs and may require constant validation or attention.

How to deal with difficult people?

1. Be clear and concise:

When communicating with difficult people, it's important to be clear and concise with your message. Keep your statements brief and to the point and avoid using language that could be misinterpreted. Stick to the facts and avoid making assumptions or generalizations.

2. Use "I" statements:

Instead of placing blame or accusing of wrongdoing, use "I" statements to express your feelings and concerns.

For example, instead of saying "You're being difficult," you could say "I'm feeling frustrated by the situation."

3. Acknowledge their feelings:

Difficult people often feel like they're not being heard or understood. By acknowledging their feelings, you can help build trust and show that you're willing to work together.

For example, you could say "I understand that you're feeling upset about this, and I want to find a way to address your concerns."

4. Avoid getting defensive:

It can be tempting to get defensive or argue back. However, this will only escalate the situation and make it harder to find a resolution. Instead, focus on staying calm and responding in a respectful way.

5. Use active listening:

Active listening means fully engaging in the conversation and demonstrating that you're really hearing what the other person is saying. This means making eye contact, nodding, and asking clarifying questions. It can help diffuse tension and show that you're committed to finding a solution.

6.Set boundaries:

While it's important to listen and empathize, you also need to protect yourself from being mistreated. If the difficult person is being abusive or disrespectful, it's okay to set boundaries and say that you won't tolerate that behavior. You can still approach the situation in a respectful way, but you need to make it clear that you won't allow yourself to be treated poorly.

7. Stay calm:

Keep your emotions in check. If you get angry or upset, it can escalate the situation and make it harder to find a resolution. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and try to approach the conversation in a calm, level-headed manner.

8. Find common ground:

Even if you have different opinions or goals, try to find some common ground that you can work from. Maybe you both want the same end result, but you have different ideas about how to get there. By focusing on what you have in common, you can find a way to work together and find a resolution that everyone can be happy with.

9. Put yourself in their shoes:

Try to imagine what their life might be like and what experiences they may have had that could have led to their difficult behavior.

Look for the underlying cause:

Difficult behavior is often a symptom of something deeper. It may be a result of past trauma, anxiety, insecurity, or other underlying issues.

Don't take it personally:

It's important to remember that difficult behavior is often not about you, but about the person exhibiting it. Try not to let their behavior affect how you feel about yourself.

Powerful phrases to say:

1. I understand how you feel, but..." This phrase can be helpful when you want to acknowledge the difficult person's perspective but also assert your own needs or boundaries.

2. "I need you to speak to me respectfully" or "I need you to complete this task by the deadline."

3. "Let's focus on finding a solution." When the conversation is becoming heated or unproductive this phrase can redirect the conversation towards problem-solving rather than finger-pointing or blame.

4. "Can you clarify what you mean by that?"

5. "I appreciate your input, and I'd like to hear from others as well." Use this phrase when dealing with a know-it-all or someone who dominates the conversation. It can help open up the conversation to other perspectives and create a more collaborative environment.


Remember, dealing with difficult people takes patience, empathy, and a willingness to work together. By staying calm, listening actively, and focusing on problem-solving, you can build stronger relationships and find solutions to even the toughest problems.

Let us know in the comment which of these, you will instantly bring into practice.

If you enjoyed what you’ve read, please share.

Top posts straight to your inbox. Get Must Reads by signing up.

11 views0 comments


Founder and Editor

bottom of page