How to Deal With Difficult People

In every workplace, neighborhood, and social setting, there are folks who make life difficult. You know who they are. If you would like to improve your interactions with these people, keep the following in mind:

1. All people are different. If friction occurs, remember that everyone handles situations in different ways. Interfacing with someone whose communication style is the opposite of yours, or who seems to add unnecessary drama to situations, can be stressful. If you focus on the difficulty of the situation—rather than the difficulty of the person—you have greater opportunities to ease the tension. More response options are open to you.

2. Everyone’s needs must be met. This includes your own needs. Some people need direct, honest feedback during interactions while others need validation and support. Neither is right or wrong. If you prefer to avoid confrontation, for example, that blunt coworker might seem difficult. But perhaps he is just trying to meet his own need for straightforward dialogue.

The best way to start the process is to get your own needs met so you can be free of stress. Then you can focus on helping the other person get his/her needs met as well.

3. Focus on creative solutions. Once the needs of all parties are met, together you can engage in a creative process of identifying potential solutions.

Remember: Dealing with difficult people doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s all about your perspective.

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