Deal with Difficult people

10 Insights on Training to Deal With Difficult People

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Morning all,

Wed 24 Feb

Here are today’s time and I’ve been up since 430am.

My day yesterday was spent dealing with a difficult person. It was a merry-go-round of issues that didn’t really seem to fix itself as neatly as I wished – despite my best efforts.

And if you’ve landed upon this blog – maybe you’re having challenges with difficult people in your life as well and I wanted to offer up some ‘at-home training’ you can do…

Alone or with friends/colleagues and family – that might prove helpful in your journey of making dealing with difficult people that little bit more tolerable.

This is coming based upon what happened yesterday with a questioning client, as well as then taking a wider look at the challenges I’ve had with difficult people over the years.

Running a digital marketing agency means often time you have to deal with difficult people and there’s not a huge amount you can do about it.

Unless of course – you consider doing some training yourself, to begin with – which is what I’ll take you through right now:

Some quotes about dealing with difficult people

Difficult People

This is a solid place to start. We’ll look at some quotes as a vehicle to offer some training and insights into how to deal with difficult folks, to begin with:

Difficult people aren’t ultimately driven by logic

Difficult People Aren't Logic

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.”

– Dale Carnegie

This is very much worth remembering because it’s not just a case of making a ‘logical argument’ and then that’s the end of it.

Depending upon the nature of the conversation or challenge – ultimately that person – will need some type of emotional reassurance more than anything else.

Something has happened where they lack trust, or feel anger, or are confused, and appealing to someone’s emotional side – or even at least being away of it is important when getting into debates and discussions.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Run High When Dealing With Difficult People


“If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.”

– John Lubbock

This is really important to remember when you’re training yourself at home on how to deal with difficult people.

In this regard, it’s easy enough to get angry or frustrated – and getting into any kind of emotional state will never be productive when dealing with a difficult person.

The best way to train yourself in this situation is to engage in role-play – with a specific focus upon managing your emotions – and not letting them get the better of you and clouding your rational judgment.

Accept that some people are difficult and you will not change them

Some People are Difficult

“I cannot make the universe obey me. I cannot make other people conform to my own whims and fancies. I cannot make even my own body obey me.”

– Thomas Merton

One of the things that’s important to recognise when you’re training to deal with difficult people is that it’s not the case you’re going to change them as people overnight.

If you consider your own idiosyncrasies – it’s likely that you’ve been unable to change them for a lifetime as well!

So correspondingly – it may be the case that you’ll never change other people – changing yourself is a struggle enough as it is.

I find this powerful to keep in mind when you’re reflecting upon situations with difficult people. People are the way they are just as we are the way we are – and this makes feelings of anger dissipate that bit more.

Observe difficult people without judgement

Observe Difficult People

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do”

– Andrew Carnegie

This relates a lot to mindfulness. That being an observer of someone rather than a true participant in a difficult situation or when dealing with a difficult person will literally help train your emotional mind in letting go of the situation.

Much of the time the challenge of dealing with difficult people is the judgements you start making about them – and the impact that has upon yourself.

You can’t appease everybody

Appease Everybody

By trying to be everything to everybody, you could soon find yourself being a nobody

~ Michael Sage

This is powerful to understand in my view because it’s important in your bid to manage and placate difficult people that in all of it you don’t lose yourself.

And this can often come as a result of being eternally ‘flexible’ where you really shouldn’t be.

So keep hold of your values and your insights into the kind of person that you are when you’re training yourself to manage difficult people and don’t lose sight of that.

As it turns out – a lot of folks look to religion as well – so I thought I’d also have a look at:

What The Bible Says About Dealing With Difficult People

Difficult People

Proverbs 15:1

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

This is an excellent strategy on how you should actually respond to difficult people and situations. Harsh words almost never end well.

Romans 12:18

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

This seems obvious but when it comes to training to deal with difficult people I think there’s a tendency to recognise that the outcome which we seek is peace above anything else.

So keep this in mind as you get into entanglements with difficult people, that searching for an outcome of peace is always the best option.

Matthew 7:12

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

This is something that I don’t know if I’ll ever implement properly even though it’s something that I’ve heard all my life. That it’s important to do to others as you would do for yourself.

I’d ask you as part of your role play training – to also play the role of an angry person when you feel you’ve been hard done by. Remember that feeling, and then engage and think about a time where you’ve been handled delightfully – and how this could be a model for yourself in your own training.

Galatians 5:14-15

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

The ramifications of not dealing with difficult people properly are actually rather large. In situations where you can walk away – it doesn’t matter so much because well – the situation doesn’t exist anymore.

But for most of us, there’s going to be those times when you need to deal with a challenging person – and this quote from Galatians is important because if you don’t treat a difficult person with compassion – you can easily let anger boil over.

There hasn’t been a confrontation I’ve been part of where my getting angry has ultimately led to a positive outcome – it’s always net negative.

[convertful id=”197358″]

Romans 14:13.

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”

Sometimes the reason that those around you are difficult – is because you’re not making things easy for them. Some of the conflicts I have had has often come from me not making things as easy as possible for those people around me. It can be the case that at the time I genuinely don’t realise that I’m putting roadblocks in front of them.

So, assess how easy you’re making things for the other person – and if it could be easier still – than you definitely have some work to do 🙂

Colossians 4:6.

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

Coming from a place of extreme honesty here is important – and this is what’s important when it comes to your speech and your words.

Being honest and having the best intentions in mind.

Other Considerations When It Comes To Dealing With Difficult People

Practice The Power Of Assertiveness

Practice of Assertiveness

It’s important that as much as you bend – where you think someone isn’t being fair, that you do at least make this clear.

Sometimes you don’t have to make this clear at the moment if emotions are flying around.

So wait until the emotion in the situation has passed and then raise your points about why what’s been said isn’t a reflection of the situation.

Practice The Power Of Saying No

Practice The Power

This is again challenging. Being able to say ‘no I disagree’ can be very scary in many situations.

Again this is where role play comes into the frame and you can just literally practice what it would be like to say no to someone whose being difficult or being demanding.

The biggest challenge when it comes to training yourself in being able to manage such situations is that people do far too little training.

It’s only when it’s after the fact or too late that you think – damn I should really have managed that much more effectively.

Understanding The Differences Between Passive, Aggressive and Assertive Behaviour

Understanding The Differences

This is something that will come from experience I believe – knowing the difference between being passive, being assertive and then being aggressive.

Just being aware in your mind of these different states is important to managing difficult people.

If you can avoid such people – avoid them

Avoid Them

One of the mistakes I made with my agency is that I feel like I ‘must’ deal with difficult people – when in the truth that’s not the case at all.

There is no need to work with difficult people if you have the option to not work with them – especially where you feel there’s no value to be gained from such a relationship.

Try and take the value from what people say and ignore the criticism

Ignore The Criticism

This is one of the things that can get often lost when training to deal with difficult people. Difficult people don’t intend to be malicious.

Typically – they just have very high (and sometimes unrealistic standards) – but that doesn’t mean to say there isn’t value in the things they wish for.

So consider this before you try and remove this relationship from your life.

What is it that can be learned from your engagement – not only in terms of the way you manage the situation but also from the things being said.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Training to deal with difficult people I think is a powerful thing to do and learn because it’s (broadly speaking) something of a one-time thing that can lead to life long improvements.

As said, this post was spurred on by my dealing with difficult people at work yesterday and well – as ever – I hope it proves to be of some use to you on your journey.

If you have specific questions you want to be answered, just leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond 😉

Today has been particularly slow – I took 4 hours (including a 45-minute nap lol) to write this 😛

Wed 24 Feb

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