By ‘difficult’ people we mean people with certain personality traits or emotional characteristics that make it difficult for you to communicate with them. The ability to effectively cope with such people while maintaining a healthy work environment is known as the skill of dealing with difficult people.

It is inevitable for you to come across a difficult person in your life that bring about distress, whether it’s in the form of a neighbor, relative, colleague, employee, customer, or supplier. However, the intensity of their difficulty may vary depending upon the kind of difficult person they are; downers, better thans, passives, or tanks.

Why is dealing with difficult people important

Whenever we are faced with unreasonably difficult people, our instinct is to react with frustration and irritation. That, however, is the ticket to destruction. It causes tension to build in the work environment and can prove a serious threat to the productivity as well as the overall stability of the work environment.

Therefore, it is important to develop the skills of dealing with difficult people not only for the sake of your satisfaction but because your long term as well as short term success depends to a great extent on your ability to smoothly and successfully interact with such people. To increase the likelihood of your success in life and career, you must be savvy in dealing with such difficult behaviors.

How to improve your skills of dealing with difficult people

Since it is difficult to avoid crossing paths with difficult people, the best option is to improve your skills of dealing with difficult people in the following way:

  1. Identify the nature of difficulty. Analyze the specific behavior causing distress and identify the kind of difficult person you need to deal with. For example, is he a ‘downer’ who is always complaining and criticizing, a ‘passive’ who never contributes anything, a ‘better than’ who believes he knows everything, or just a bossy ‘tank’. Moreover, you must also analyze whether or not the behavior is consistent because sometimes it is possible that the person is just having a bad day.
  2. Understand them instead of trying to change them. Mostly when we come across someone with a difficult behavior, we tend to advise them to change themselves. For instance, we may try to encourage a ‘passive’ to stand up for himself or a ‘downer’ to be more positive in his thinking. This, however, only causes them to resent us. The best way is to try to understand them, their values, and whatever it is that drives their decisions. This not only helps them relax but also encourages them to be more open-minded.
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