The Art of Dealing With Difficult People

Difficult people are part of life. You can’t hide from it. You can’t run from it. No matter how sweet and generous of a person you are, there will be others who rub you the wrong way.

It isn’t always intentional. Sometimes our body language is all it takes – a subconscious movement or reaction that is hard-wired into a person’s psyche. And although I firmly believe that people can change, it will only happen if they are willing to change themselves.

Here are five ways we irritate, dishearten, and upset one another as human beings. Let’s figure out how we can cope with them when it happens to us – and how to change our own ways, as well.

So… what do we do

when they raise their voice?

What does a dog do when you yell at it? It puts its tail between its legs and curls up in a ball, giving you a look that could melt any stone-cold heart.

Unfortunately, its a bit different with humans.

Usually, one of two things that usually happen when you’re being yelled at. One, you start yelling back. Or two, you slink off and get as far away as possible from the aggressor. I know I’m very guilty of both…. but it got me thinking: Is there a third option?

There is: stay calm. It isn’t easy, but its the only way you can control the situation. Because the person who is yelling has already lost control. Look them in the eye, earnestly. Eye contact is one of the most disarming techniques we can use when having a heated conversation because it is so unusual. Eventually they will stop yelling and when they do.. think before you respond.

Remember: People yell because they feel like they aren’t being heard.

when they roll their eyes?

Talk about the most unintentional of secret weapons! I’m no expert on body language, but I do know that few silly things in this world set me off like someone rolling their eyes at me! (even though that makes me a terrible hypocrite…)

I’ve found that calling out this behavior directly literally encourages more of it. No one likes to be embarrassed, even when its a one-on-one conversation.

If someone rolls their eyes at you, first, don’t take it too personally. Your ego may be slightly wounded, but you’ll heal.

Secondly, think about the situation you’re in. Are you an authority figure over them? Or is this your peer? If the former, acknowledge them politely in a way they will know you saw their reaction. “Is there something you’d like to add?” If the latter, ask if everything is alright.

when they ignore you?

The dreaded silent treatment. A game created to see ‘who cares more.’ A game created only to hurt one another.

First things first, consider that they might be ignoring you because of something you did, intentional or not, that hurt their feelings. People don’t ignore people for ‘no reason’. There’s always a reason – even if you don’t agree with it.

Give that person some space. Let things cool off. Sometimes, its just paranoia. Whatever it is, think calmly about what could’ve happened to create this situation. Usually, it isn’t completely out of left field. You’re smart. Once some time has passed to clear the air, have a move and talk to the person. Seek this as an opportunity to really listen, if they’re willing to talk.

Apologize, if necessary. We aren’t always in the right.

And if that still doesn’t resolve anything… it may be time to consider if its best to just walk away.

when they laugh at you?

There’s a difference between light-hearted laughing and mocking. Here, I’m talking about mocking.

Hold your head high. Know that it is not about you. People who mock others are externalizing the issues they have inside themselves. Once we piece together the mocker’s motivation for their behavior, its easier not to take it personally.

But it gets to us all. No one likes to be made fun of. Sometimes humor is one of the easiest ways to soften the blow. They’re already laughing – put the ball in your court. Control the situation by disarming the person whose laughing. “Oh, I slipped and fell on a banana. I knew that fortune teller wasn’t bluffing – she told me this would happen!” (Look guys, I’m trying. LOL.)

when they bully you?

Know you are not alone. Don’t be afraid of getting some help. Help can mean many things – talking with a professional, a friend, or an advisor.

Ignore insults online. Do not respond. Do not feed the hungry wolf. Insults online are put there by someone who sits between a computer screen, usually anonymously. Block them from your online social media accounts – its not worth addressing.

In person, be assertive. There is a difference between assertiveness and aggression. An aggressive person bullies others. An assertive person puts a bully firmly in their place.

-Jenni xo

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