Dealing with Difficult People – Your survival kit

This is a 2 part series. Part 1 addresses the different personality types. Then in part 2, we’ll look at how to deal with them in the workplace.

Your survival kit for difficult people is enhanced by your ability to read people. This first skill is avoidance. If you know someone is in a bad mood and you don’t have to interact with them today, don’t! If that’s not an option, here are some other ways to cope.

  • Set Boundaries. You don’t have to allow anyone to mistreat you.
  • Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself.
  • You are in control of your thoughts and behavior. Don’t allow them to pull out a response. Remind yourself, this person is in trouble. This blow up has little to do with the present situation and all about built up hostilities, anger, depression or some other feeling.
  • No not physically. If you are in physical danger, leave the situation immediately. However, verbally confronting the individual in a calm manner, can cause them to reset. Bullies don’t pick on someone who appears strong. Don’t apologize for not allowing someone to mistreat you.
  • Ask questions. Make them be specific in their list of grievances. Do not allow them to make generalizations.
  • Use the “Nice” approach. The old kill them with kindness. If you can keep from taking the attack personally and respond with kindness, you’ll generally disarm the situation and be able to have an actual conversation.
  • The last resort. But there are people who you just can’t work with or be around. No matter what tactic you deploy, the negative outweighs any positive gain. Those are the people you just need to cut out from your life. In a work situation, limit your exposure to just what is required in your position.


Difficult people find their way into all areas of our life. Once you understand the root of their behavior, you can find a tactic that allows you to work through a tough situation and possible find value in the relationship after all.

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