Career Advice Corner

How to Deal with Difficult People you Can’t Get Rid of

Unfortunately, there will likely be people in your life whom you cannot stand, people you cannot kill and you cannot get rid of.

They could be in-laws, coworkers or ex-spouses. These are people who will always be in your life due to circumstances and other relationships, so it pays to learn how to deal with them.

There can be a thousand traits that can cause someone to be called ‘difficult’ from penny-pinching to mean-spirited to know-it- all and so forth.

The most common and worrisome complaint I hear on the subject of difficult people is that they are irrational – those who choose to be difficult for no apparent reason. These are the unpredictable sort with short fuses. It is so hard to understand what fires them up, and their blow ups always inspire fear and confusion in others.
Usually, emotional outbursts occur as a kind of self-protection because people feel threatened. Something about you or the situation causes them to reel with insecurity and lash out. The first step, then, is don't take it personally or take on their guilt trip. It is their insecurity, not yours.
Next, forget about trying to change them. It is a losing battle to expect someone to surrender what is probably their finest weapon. Why is it so important to get this irrational person to behave rationally? Especially if you have seen this pattern replay over and over, you know they don’t change, so save yourself time and frustration and give up trying to change them.
Ultimately, the goal should be peace. Ask yourself what am you are willing to give up in order to get that peace. Determine what you are willing to accept. From this standpoint, you can enter a more healthy negotiation. With clarity on your own goals, you are ready to talk with your difficult person. You will need to understand the basis for the ugly behavior.
Explain that you are dissatisfied with your current relationship and want it improved. Ask what is making them so miserable?

You may find that there is no ready answer. Often, it’s a situation of feeling unappreciated or threatened. Find out what threatens them. If you dig a bit, you may discover the reason they are hurt is they don’t feel heard, they feel insignificant, powerless, feel they don’t matter, they feel excluded, or undermined by others. If you really just want peace, take the time to hear them out, quench their fear and you can finally move on!
Just be cautious not to feed unhealthy behaviors. People are also difficult because we let them get away with it. There are bullies in the world who never learned a more mature manner of dealing with life, and they have invested time and effort into perfecting their act.

If unhealthy manipulation, lies or anger are ruining your life, you need to set a clear boundary and communicate it. Most of the time people act up and act out because they are getting something from it. Some studies show the difficult people are given better shifts, allowed to work with better people and assigned to the better jobs. Being difficult gives someone attention, so once again, stop giving them that attention.
Over time, they will realize their difficult behavior is not working. If someone realizes his manipulation won’t work on you, he will ultimately take his game somewhere else.

Written by Jody Urquhart
a professional speaker who compels stressed-out and fed-up professionals to rediscover their passion, purpose & sense of fun. 1(877) 750-1900