Are you in a situation where you need to deal with difficult people? It could be your co-workers or neighbors, or maybe even some of your family members. There are probably a multitude of reasons why these individuals are so complicated. You can’t control how they treat you, but you can control how you react to them.

Here are five techniques to help you better deal with difficult people.

1 – Show difficult people respect

It’s counterintuitive to show respect to someone unkind to you. Even though they don’t deserve it, you can treat them with respect. If you start attacking by yelling and getting upset at them, you’re stooping to their level. Refuse to resort to anger or name-calling. Acting as they do won’t eliminate the problem or make it any easier to deal with them. Showing them respect is treating them the way you would like to be treated.


How to show respect to someone, even when they are unpleasant:

Here are some simple ways to show the problematic people in your life some respect despite their bad behavior towards you.

  • Say good morning when you see them: Even if they don’t respond, you have tried to show them respect. You are refusing to be angry or mean to them as they have been to you. It’s a step towards helping them see what kind of person you are and maybe thawing out their anger.
  • Look for things you respect about them: Maybe they’re hard workers, that’s noteworthy. Or perhaps they have lovely kids. That’s worth respecting them. If you look hard enough, you’ll find something you can appreciate about this difficult individual in your life. It won’t change how they treat you, but it can help transform your perspective about them.
  • Respect their potential: You may not know everything about this challenging person, but you can at least assume they have some potential that could benefit the neighborhood, your office, or your community. Even the most difficult person has some talent or skill. Knowing this helps you value them.
  • Remind yourself of your shortcomings: It’s easy to see another person’s shortcomings while being blind to your own. If you have a difficult person in your life, try to acknowledge your weaknesses. Admitting that you’ve been challenging to live with at times levels the playing field. When you do that, you won’t feel superior to them. It doesn’t change the situation, but it can help you have a different perspective on the difficult person. Plus, it enables you to be a bit more understanding of them.

2 – Be compassionate towards them

You never know what people are going through. Perhaps they’ve had a tough life with lots of problems. Maybe they’re just angry at the world. Maybe the way they treat you has nothing to do with you. It’s just a reaction to their struggles in their life. Showing them compassion is responding positively despite their actions. It’s turning the other cheek. Showing empathy for someone who doesn’t act like they want it is hard. Find little ways to show you care.

Try the following acts of kindness:

  • Put your difficult neighbor’s trash can back into their yard
  • At work, please open the door for the problematic person so they can go in first
  • Offer your difficult teenager a special drink from Starbucks
  • Take cookies to your difficult neighbor
  • Send your difficult relative a text asking how they’re doing

Don’t assume that the way this person acts is about you. Instead, consider this difficult person needs some compassion. Then look for creative ways to show it.

3 – Stay calm

Difficult people are hard to deal with. They say and do things that make you mad. Perhaps your difficult co-worker gossiped about you at work, or your difficult neighbor yelled at your kids because they stepped into their yard. It’s tempting to want to get angry and yell back at them. In an unguarded moment, maybe you plotted your revenge. It’s normal to feel this way, but of course, getting angry or doing something revengeful will only make the situation worse. There is no use losing sleep over the problematic person. They’re sleeping fine. Instead, choose to stay calm and not respond in the same manner.

Choose kindness rather than revenge. Researchers note there’s a connection between anger and heart disease. Anger affects your nervous system, which activates stress hormones that affect your heart. Anger also contributes to unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking, overeating, and drinking. Others view hostile people as untrustworthy or unsafe. Keep your own heart and mind calm so that you aren’t endangering your body or mind.

difficult person

4 – Don’t let the difficult person steal your joy

Difficult people can loom large in your life. If you’re constantly thinking about them and the unkind things they’ve said to you, it’s as if they have power over you. When you allow your happiness to be dictated by what others think about you, it steals your joy. Resist the urge to let the difficult person’s view of you change how you view your life. Take what they say with a carefree attitude. Your self-worth isn’t dependent upon these difficult people’s acceptance of you. No matter what the difficult person thinks or does, you can maintain your joyful disposition and enjoy your life. Remember these things to help yourself find joy even if someone is mean and demanding.

Remind yourself of these fundamental truths:

  • This issue isn’t about you
  • They must be unhappy people who have problems at home
  • Think about all you’re grateful for in your life
  • Find joy in your daily tasks, your family, or your home
  • Write in our journal how you’re feeling about this situation
  • Get exercise to let go of the stress of the situation
  • Laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation
  • Practice yoga to stretch and ease your tension

5 – Ignore a difficult person.

Why waste your energy on negativity?

When all else fails, sometimes the best course of action when dealing with a rude person is to ignore them. It’s okay to refuse to deal with negative people because you won’t change them or the circumstances. They will continue to be difficult and hostile, no matter what you do.

Of course, avoiding them may not be possible, but you can at least not enter into a conversation with them. If they’re your neighbors, you may need to live your own life and be friendly with the other neighbors around you. The problematic people may not want to talk with you, anyway. It’s said that people can’t get along, primarily if you work together or are neighbors, but it’s the sad reality of the world. There will be those people who choose to push you away by their negative behavior.


Final thoughts on trying these techniques to deal with difficult people

It’s not easy being in a situation where you need to deal with difficult people. Whether you’re dealing with difficult family members, difficult neighbors, or difficult co-workers, it can take an emotional toll on you. Although they may have good reasons for their rudeness, it’s still tempting to think about what they’ve said and done to the point that you lose your joy. Please resist the urge to think about them all the time. Instead, you can choose to show them respect and compassion and stay calm when you’re around them.

If you find they are still challenging to be around, maybe the best thing for you to do is to ignore them. You won’t change them or the circumstance, but you need to preserve your mental health. Life is full of difficult people. Learning how to deal with them helps you grow.

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