How to Effectively Deal With Difficult People

In an ideal world, everyone we encounter is pleasant, kind, and just plain wonderful to be around…

Unfortunately for us, the reality of the world we live in is not quite that way. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you’ve had at least one difficult person you had to deal with in the past or perhaps you’re currently dealing with some of these negative people.

Either way, it’s more than likely that you will encounter at least a handful or more of similar characters through out your lifetime.

Having dealt with a fair share of these people myself, I know that sounds rather aggravating and depressing news…but what if we choose to see the positive side of our interactions and relationships with difficult people?

What if instead of seeing them as a nuisance who strives to make our lives difficult, we choose to see them as beings who have been put into our paths to teach us valuable and priceless lessons?

Oprah was once quoted saying “Surround yourself only with people who will lift you higher”, despite the fact that I’m a huge fan of Oprah and her wisdom, I often think to myself that this is definitely harder said than done.

There are just some less than stellar people that we simply can’t cut out of our lives, be it temporarily like our clients, bosses, colleagues or eternally, such as your family members or relatives.

Like it or not, in some circumstances, we are stuck with these characters and often find ourselves having to deal with them on a regular basis.

Fear not, I’m here to offer you another perspective. It may just be an effective approach to dealing with any negative person that comes your way be it strangers, colleagues, bosses or even those in your family.

When we encounter a negative person, most of us have a tendency to immediately direct negative feelings back towards them. We’d find ourselves blaming that particular person for causing us aggravation, despair, grief etc. for their actions towards us.

We would even judge and label them as our “enemy” or “foe” and vow to seek revenge. What we don’t realize is that through these actions, we are actually encouraging this person to perpetuate their behavior because we are giving in to the emotion that they are seeking in us.

I believe that people who intentionally behave badly and attack others for no reason (those who are downright mean!) , are those who are hurting miserably from lack of love. And as we all know, misery loves company.

Negative people expect us to reciprocate their bad behavior and when we do, it is as if we’re attempting to put out fire with fire and as a result create an even bigger fire.

If the negative situation perpetuate over a long period of time, not only would we find ourselves giving into their negative energy, we may end up becoming just like them in the process.

So how exactly do we stop this vicious cycle of negativity?

There’s a cheeky yet brilliant quote that I came across a while ago which stated “When tempted to play fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department generally uses water!” which essentially suggests that rather reciprocating their “fire” with more fire or negativity with negativity, why not use “water” aka positivity and/or kindness to diffuse the flame instead?

I know that the thought of being kind to someone who appears to dedicate their time & effort to make your life a “living hell” is anything but a walk in the park.

However, having applied it in numerous encounters and relationships with negative people, I find it to be the most effective and one that is most mutually beneficial.

I even used this approach with the most difficult person whom I’ve ever had to deal with and not only did it prevent unpleasant situations from escalating, that particular person end up offering me a job!

Often times, when I encounter people who are unkind to me, I find that their behavior/actions don’t have so much to do with me. It has everything to do with themselves.

For whatever reason, they felt that they’ve been hurt by others or treated unfairly in life and felt the need to inflict the same pain on others hence our best defense is not to inflict pain back but to extend love, empathy, and patience towards them.

We have no idea what challenges or issues they’ve gone through or are going through, hence it is in our best interest to not quickly judge.

With that said, I’m certainly not encouraging anyone to let themselves be bullied or giving into the bad behaviors. If that happens to be  the case, it’s best to not engage and walk away. 

I’m simply suggesting that there is a better way to deal with negativity and that is to remain kind and positive – or at the very least, be cordial, despite the unpleasant circumstances.

Looking back, I am grateful for all the difficult people I’ve encountered because the experiences have enabled me to reflect, look deep within, and realized that I am much kinder and stronger than I give myself credit for.

I believe that people enter our lives never by chance and always for a reason. However, it is entirely up to us to decide what that reason is and decide whether negative people who enter our lives are a curse or a blessing. I hope that you too will always opt for the latter.

3 thoughts on “How to Effectively Deal With Difficult People”

  1. I always keep in mind that people like this are only showing you the tip of the ice berg. What lies beneath the surface is what worries me. There is a lot of bitterness and resentment in these type of people, deeper inside. So what we are seeing is the boil over of what is happening inside for them. It causes me to be a little more patient with them. But at the same time, I refuse to be dragged down to their level. Unfortunately, these people very seldom rise to your level, but try to pull you down to theirs. I just try to smile a little more with maintaining my boundaries.


    1. Hi Debbi! Thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts. What you said is so spot on, the best way to respond and “handle” difficult and/or negative people is to stay your ground and keep being happy 🙂 With time, either they will rise to your energy level or will leave you alone cause they’ll see that no amount of effort to bring you down will allow them to do so :).


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