How to handle difficult people at work (Create more harmony and see your business soar!)

Difficult people


A difficult person can be defined as someone who is prone to aggressive outbursts, has a tendency to bully, is generally unreasonable often unpredictable, and can be intimidating. Whilst everyone can be difficult at times, a really “difficult person” behaves this way most of the time. They typically show up at work as a colleague or boss, and in the family as a parent or a parent in law, and can be a real challenge around the table.


This article addresses how to deal with these types of individuals, and the information to come will help you succeed in business even when others challenge your ability to get motivated.


It is important not to take these peoples’ behaviours personally. You will probably find that most people find the same people difficult. A useful trick is to imagine them wearing a sign that says: “It’s not just you that I am unreasonable with, I do this to everyone”.


Whenever you notice someone behaving unreasonably, even if they are not normally a difficult person, I find it is helpful to remember the following: “Every obnoxious act is a cry for help”. These people have probably been on the receiving end of much pain and difficulty in their own lives, and haven’t been able to let those experiences go. You can treat them as if are in pain – and feel compassionate towards them (whether you express this directly to them or not). It is likely that these people feel a lack of love, and so it can help to send them love and light. You can do this by simply visualising them and imaging love and white light coming their way, or do the same quietly in their presence.


Whilst you may wish to change the behaviours of these really difficult people, it is notoriously difficult to do so by asking them to change.  It can work to be extremely assertive yourself and refuse to allow the behaviour. You may wish to walk away at times you feel bullied. Whilst it may be challenging to do this, do respect the difficult person and expect them to do likewise with you.  One of the best ways of dealing with them is to accept them as they are (remembering that acceptance often brings about change).


Do avoid trying to make them reasonable or arguing with them. These strategies are unlikely to work.  You can usually expect criticism from the difficult person. One way of disarming the criticism is simply to thank them for their opinion and to see how you can use it for your benefit.


Like anything difficult in life, there are always upsides to be found. Are these difficult people in your life to help you build your self esteem, improve your communication skills, or even your relaxation skills? Are they there to tell you that you yourself can be difficult and to nudge you to change your own ways. Our relationships often mirror what is going on within ourselves. Perhaps they are simply there to provide you with some entertaining stories to dine out on.

Strange as it may sound, you can even be grateful for the gifts they bring you!


What are some of your tips on dealing with difficult people?  Share your thoughts.

This article was written by Karen Skehel