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10 Simple Concepts To Remember When Dealing With Difficult People

By February 6th, 20185 Comments

Think of the most difficult person you have ever had to work with in your entire life. Now, think back to how you coped with this individual and the raw emotions that encompassed your body. If you’re like most people, you wanted to strangle that difficult individual but being a normal person you decided to go-along with what they were saying – just because.

This is completely normal.

However, sometimes we react to difficult people in a way that results in more headaches than we expect. This takes place when we disagree or upset an individual with a “my-way or the high-way” mindset. If you’re dealing with someone like this you need to be equipped with some tactics – Here are 10…

Stay Cool

This is one of the hardest things for a lot of individuals. We often times allow our emotions to get the best of us and make some decisions that we’ll soon regret. It sometimes just takes a quick walk around the office to get your mind straight or even a few minutes dissecting a few good blog posts. Be in control of your emotions and you’ll be in control of the situation.

Carry On

As the saying goes – “Stay calm and carry on.” When someone is being difficult you have no other option but to get over it. You can continue to argue, don’t get me wrong. But 9 times out of 10, that’s only going to make things worse. It’s better to state your point and if the difficult individual keeps on giving resisitence – forget it. Carry on.

Focus on the Solution

Difficult individuals tend to come up from the shadows most frequently in the midst of a problem. Rather than be a part of the solution they create a larger problem and force you to grow a few grey hairs. Throughout this process, you must remember to not focus on the difficulties being placed in front of you by this individual, but instead, focus on the solution.

Build the Relationship

No matter what industry you’re a part of – you’re in the people business. Your customers are people, your colleagues are people and your superiors are people. Building relationships will help you develop the trust of these individuals. Once you develop trust you will be able to demonstrate your expertise and allow them to rely on you for solutions. If your people don’t trust you or believe in your expertise – you will find yourself dealing with “difficult” people more often than not.

Get other opinions

If a person is constantly difficult and nothing else is working, get the opinion of someone else. A third unbiased opinion will show which side is “right” or offer a new solution all together. Collaboration can be very effective when dealing with difficult individuals. It allows a flow of new ideas and can offer support to the solution that makes the most sense.

Get in their Shoes

This is especially true when referring to your superiors and clients. If you’re dealing with a difficult client, it’s important to understand what their ultimate goal is compared to yours. Sure you should be both on the same page but often times that is not the case. A client could be trying to improve sales while limiting their risk after their boss gave them a harsh monthly review. It’s important to always look at things from their perspective. For me, this simple concept has saved me tons of headache.

Suck it up

Sometimes you just cant win. If you’re dealing with a difficult boss, you really need to just suck it up. Sure, you can quit (highly recommend) but if you’re stuck in a position for financial reasons – Suck it up.


No matter how angry this person may make you. Always show respect. There is nothing less professional than an individual raising their voice over an issue that could be handled in a library just the same. It’s not only about being professional in this case. It’s about being an adult. You should handle the situation in a respectful manner no matter how upset you are.

Don’t take it Personal

This is something that new graduates have a hard time understanding. Coming from a generation where ribbons were given out to people who came in 7th place, any type of criticism can trigger strong emotions. We must remember that it’s only business and that if someone disagrees with you, you need to either (1) explain why you’re correct better or (2) reanalyze the situation because you could in fact be wrong.

Check your Ego at the Door

There is no room for huge egos in the business world. If a client is upset with something you’ve done and is being very difficult, you need to check your ego and deal with it. You cant just push it to the side because “you’re smarter” than the client. You need to look at the situation from their perspective and if you’re in fact wrong – apologize.

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Ross Simmonds

Ross Simmonds is a digital marketing strategist who has worked with everything from Fortune 500 companies to startups to drive results using digital marketing and technology.

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