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Five Tips for Dealing with Difficult People


Difficult people are bound to come and go but it doesn’t have to mean misery for you. 

difficult people

We are all faced with difficult people from time-to-time but it doesn’t mean they have to cause great misery to our lives. In fact, with the right guidance in place, it is possible to deal with complex people and situations with little disruption and upset.

Whether it is a friend, relative, colleague or someone you just walked past down the street, these five tips will teach you how best to handle difficult people.

Tip 1. Don’t Take it Personally

If someone is treating you badly, it’s likely that they themselves are experiencing suffering for whatever reason. Picture the typical notion of the school bully – they upset other kids because they are experiencing difficulty at home; but this behaviour doesn’t stop at the school gates. As a matter of fact, people continue into adult life with the same troublesome patterns – those experiencing difficulty might cause trouble for others, which is why it is best not to take it personally.

It’s not always easy to remain neutral and not let it get to you when faced with someone who is intent on causing upset, but it’s good to remember in this situation that the other person is suffering and you are perhaps in a clearer state of mind and better equipped to deal with whatever is happening. Taking someone’s upsetting behaviour personally turns it into a personal attack when that is likely not the case.

Tip 2. Feel Compassion

Dalai Lama once said: “When we are motivated by compassion and wisdom, the results of our actions benefit everyone, not just our individual selves or some immediate convenience. When we are able to recognise and forgive ignorant actions of the past, we gain strength to constructively solve the problems of the present.”

One of the things we might face at the receiving end of someone’s upsetting behaviour, is a tendency to want to blame; to blame them for what they have done, how they have hurt us and how they are wrong.

The problem with this however is that blame creates a victim mindset, and placing yourself in a victim role generates further negativity, and will prevent you from seeing the bigger picture.

When we shift from blame to compassion, we find ourselves faced with more human understanding. Compassion helps us to see the best in people, instead of seeking out their flaws. It also helps us to look at others from a truer perspective, and really feel what they are experiencing, which creates empathy and understanding.

Tip 3. Set the Right Boundaries

Having spoken about compassion, even when someone is experiencing a difficult time, it is important to have the right boundaries in place because without them, we can let ourselves be swarmed by too much.

A healthy set of boundaries will outline how you allow others to treat you and how you treat others and yourself. In addition, boundaries are particularly helpful when dealing with difficult people who might be demanding, controlling and maybe even pushy.

Relationships that lack boundaries are unhealthy and suffer because they tend to involve blame, guilt and a general feeling that the other person is never giving or getting enough. A healthy relationship with healthy boundaries lets both sides know what to expect from the other, what kind of behaviour is ok, and what isn’t.

If you find it difficult saying no, or seemingly agree to doing things you don’t really want to do, it could be that you haven’t set the right boundaries just yet. Boundaries are a form of self-love, take a read of ‘You Can’t love Until You Love Yourself‘ and learn how to put boundaries in place.

Tip 4. Forgive 

If we cling to negativity that others offload onto us, we too can become aggravated and upset with people – it has a knock-on effect, unless we choose to end it once it reaches us. The way to stop other people’s negativity from impacting our lives and then the lives of others, is to forgive. 

View forgiveness as liberating – it enables us to close the book on something that has happened without holding a grudge or any bad feeling about it. As explained in, Choose to Forgive and Set Yourself Free, forgiveness is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves; it releases us from the tyranny of the past, allowing us to move on from upsetting events. Read the post just mentioned to learn how to forgive. 

Tip 5. Learn from Difficult People

Each time you are faced with a complex person or situation, you are offered a great chance to gain more wisdom. Grow as a person as a result of dealing with difficult people – allow them to teach you self-control, calmness, compassion, growth, forgiveness, boundaries, and everything else outlined above.

Be grateful even, for the opportunities that challenging times and people offer – if all of our relationships were perfect all of the time, seldom would we learn much about one another as humans. 

How do you choose to deal with difficult people?

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