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How To Deal With Difficult People: The 3 Step Method

difficult person

It can be challenging to deal with people who are different from us.

Most of the time, we label people as difficult because we find it hard to have patience with them to understand their perspectives. We expect them to think, behave, and communicate precisely like us.

However, we must try to understand things from others’ points of view. After all, we are all human beings with our unique experiences, values, and beliefs.

In this article, we’ll go over a few tips on dealing with difficult people, and none of them includes you changing who they are because you can never change a person. After all, change only comes from within.

What Makes a Person Difficult?

I’ve been classified as a “difficult person” because I say what needs to be said with zero filters. I do things how I want, and I try to live unapologetically.

I’ve become comfortable with that label because I understand that those who place those labels on me are desperately trying to change me into a version of themselves.

I’ve always been confused as to why people thought of me as difficult, but the more I understand that they refuse to see anything from any other perspective except their own, it all makes sense.

The definition of the word difficult is “not easily done; requiring great effort.”

From my perspective, people become classified as difficult when others can’t handle them not conforming to what they want or expect. Expectations are the main culprit when it comes for people being labeled as difficult.

So, what classifies a person as difficult?

Here are a few reasons:

  1. They have a unique perspective and share it fearlessly
  2. They don’t do things the way you want them to
  3. They’re not afraid to stand up for themselves
  4. They say what bothers them
  5. They don’t let others control them
  6. They’re not a people pleaser
  7. They refuse to change who they are for anyone
  8. They won’t allow themselves to be disrespected
  9. They refuse to listen

These reasons aren’t all bad reasons, but when they clash with our frame of thinking, they become difficult for us to handle.

The real issue isn’t with the person, but it’s with our expectations of that person.

Remember that you can never change a person, but you can always change your perspective and understanding of them.

As with everything in life, there are exceptions. Some people just want to watch the world burn, so they are deliberately difficult because it brings them joy to see someone else suffer. These people are toxic and should be avoided at all costs.

3 Steps To Deal With Difficult People

1. Don’t Take Things Personally

When dealing with someone you classify as difficult, you must first detach yourself from the situation and remember that it’s not about you.

Nothing they say or do is about you personally; it’s almost always coming from their experiences and stressors in their life.

You can’t control what they say or do. The only thing you can control is your reaction to it.

For example:

Suppose your coworker snaps at you when you ask them for something simple. Instead of getting defensive and snapping back at them, try to understand what current situation they’re dealing with and, if you can, help them through it.

Many people lack emotional intelligence, so they are often confused about why they suddenly snapped. Still, if you can be the bigger person in the situation and not take it personally, you’ll identify the root of their issue and help diffuse the situation before it explodes.

Observing objectively instead of emotionally allows you to see certain stressors that the person is having difficulty with.

Doing this helps you develop empathy for them instead of just thinking of them as difficult people.

Recommended Article: 5 Tips For Protecting Your Energy

2. Seek To Understand Instead of Judging

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had a bad day (or week, or month, or even year) where everything seems to be going wrong, and nothing we try turns out how we envision it.

Stuff happens, and this can cause a lot of stress, pent-up anger, and frustration.

In my experience, most people labeled as difficult are going through something challenging. They’re just better at hiding it than others.

Instead of judging them and getting angry with them, try to understand what they might be going through.

If you can put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective, you’ll start to understand that they’re just not very good at expressing what they’re feeling, so it comes out as defensive.

Listen to their words, and if you can put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective, you’ll start to understand that their tantrums are a coverup to something bigger.

For example:

June snapped at Adam, a coworker, when he asked her for help with a new project he was assigned.

Instead of getting angry with June, Adam brought her a cup of coffee and sat down to talk to her about what was happening.

He listened to her vent about having a tough month, her sales goals weren’t met, her team was falling behind, and her supervisor was not being understanding.

Adam listened to June intently and offered some advice and support.

He realized that a lot was weighing on June; so instead of cursing her and walking away as a solution, he chose to help her vent, calm down, and feel better about the situation.

He put in extra effort to understand what was bothering her. In turn, she was more receptive to his request for help because he took the time to understand and help her instead of focusing solely on his needs.

He saw her as a person instead of a solution to a problem.

3. Respond, Don’t React

Every action has an equal or opposite reaction; this is a law of physics written by Sir Isaac Newton.

In dealing with difficult people, if you react to negativity with more negativity, it’s only going to escalate the situation.

You need to be the better person and respond with positivity and calmness. This will disarm them and change their frame of thought because you chose to step away from the normal interactions they’re used to.

A “difficult person” is very used to other people reacting to them negatively, so when you respond with kindness, it shows them that you’re willing to understand their perspective.

Your positive response will help them to drop their guard and successfully move to the next stage.

Recommended Article: How To Develop A Healthy And Positive Mindset 

You Cannot Change People

It’s important to remember that you can’t change or fix someone else; the only person you can change is yourself.

If you want to understand why a person is difficult, then you need to be willing to put in the extra effort and truly understand where their pushback is coming from.

This doesn’t mean that you need to be their doormat. However, it does mean that you should try to see things from their perspective and respond accordingly.

If you can do this, you’ll find that dealing with anyone will become easier.

The main reason is that you choose to see them as fellow human beings instead of the monster other people have made them out to be.

I hope this article helps you to understand how to deal with difficult people. If you have any questions or tips of your own, please share them in the comments below!

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Jody is a creative writer, artist, graphic designer, and a digital nomad who also helps people live more fulfilling lives by finding creative solutions to their personal growth and development problems and lifestyle challenges.

10 thoughts on “How To Deal With Difficult People: The 3 Step Method”

  1. Wow loved this post! I’ve been told I’m a “difficult person” as well and sometimes it would make me second guess myself a lot and think if I’m really that difficult 😞 ! I loved the way you put this together, Thank you for this post.

    1. Jody

      You’re very welcome Krissia, try not to second guess yourself too much, just be you.

  2. I live with a couple “difficult” people. My husband and oldest daughter. They are very headstrong, unfiltered, tell it how it is people. It’s admirable and at times terrifying haha. But, everything you said here is accurate, and we do need to try to understand where they are coming from, instead of assuming they mean the worse.

    1. Jody

      Thanks for sharing your experience with your husband and older daughter Amanda and thank you for being understanding, I’m sure they appreciate you for it 100% Also, thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate you.

  3. This is a great post! It will definitely make life easier when you are surrounded by difficult people,

    1. Jody

      I’m happy you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading!

  4. I love this so, so much… Reading an article by someone who is unapologetically authentic has definitely inspired me to keep staying true to myself. Thank you 💖

    1. Jody

      Be exactly who you are Ashley!

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