Do’s & Don’ts of Dealing With Difficult People

We all have to do it, but dealing with difficult people is, well, difficult.  Other people’s faults and foibles remain unavoidable, especially in this age of hyper connectivity and over sharing.  It is possible to make dealing with difficult people easier on yourself by changing what you do in your encounters with them?  What you do when confronting a difficult person is as important as what you don’t do?  Not every strategy will work for every person either, since individuals can be difficult to categorize sometimes.  You may need to fine tune your game plan if something doesn’t work the first time, and try, try again.

Do’s of Dealing with Difficult People

Do act professionally, especially if you have to work with a difficult person.  Even if you don’t work with someone and your interactions are difficult, behaving professionally certainly can’t hurt. Treating that stubborn someone like a part of your job will make your run-ins with them a bit more palatable.

Do employ the GIVE strategy.  GIVE stands for be Gentle.  Temper your approach and behave courteously.  Act Interested and really listen to the other person.  Try not to Validate that individual’s feelings and let them know you understand their point of view.  Use an Easy manner.  If you’re uptight, they’ll be uptight too.  Relax your mind and maintain an nonthreatening posture.  Be light-hearted and easy to get along with.

Be patient. While this may seem impossible at times, patience will pay off better than any other skill discussed here.

If all else fails, do try to avoid a particularly exasperating individual.  Sometimes, that’s the best you can do if someone is particularly toxic.

Don’ts of Dealing with Difficult People

Don’t attack a difficult person. If you are angry with someone definitely let them know, but don’t attack them verbally or physically.  Try to keep your body language as non-threatening as you can during a confrontation with a difficult person.

Don’t threaten or attempt to manipulate a difficult person.  Remain the bigger person and take the higher ground, don’t reduce yourself to blackmail, veiled threats, or petty insults to get your point across.  You don’t have the right to manipulate someone because you don’t like what you hear, so remember that your requests and compromises can be rejected.

Don’t judge.  Don’t make your dispute with somebody the sole factor in judging whether or not they are a good person.

And don’t interrupt or try to talk over a difficult person unless absolutely necessary.  Not only is it impolite, it implies that you care little about their side of things.

Finally, don’t make it all about you.  Empathy is an important personality trait, so do your very best to remember that although a person may be difficult, they are entitled to their own feelings and opinions.  Be sensitive to their feelings and desires, and don’t push too hard.