A mindset for dealing with difficult people

Difficult people are a part of every day life. You can definitely avoid some of them but you can’t avoid all of them. If you deal with them in the right manner, your day will continue peacefully and you will be able to focus on what is really important to you. But if you deal with difficult people badly, the situation is likely to escalate out of control, you will lose your peace and happiness and your day will be ruined. Very few things ruin your day like a bad experience with a difficult person. That’s why it is so important to develop a mindset for dealing with difficult people. It helps to ensure that you manage each situation to the very best of your ability and minimise the potential damage that could be caused.

Note

There is no such thing as a difficult person. It is just a repeated pattern of difficult behaviour which that person chooses to use. However, for illustrative purposes, people find it clearer when we use the term ‘difficult people/person’ so I will use that term. Just make sure that when you find yourself in a difficult situation, you focus on the behaviour rather than the person as that will get you the best results.

You can improve your communication and relationship skills with my FREE Checklist - Do's and Don'ts of Dealing with Difficult People.


A mindset for dealing with difficult people

Below, I have used 5 of my favourite quotes about dealing with difficult people to illustrate the key components of a mindset for dealing with difficult people.

1

Be gentle

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Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.

Aggression is often mistaken as a sign of strength. You speak and act tough with another person until you get your way. When you get your way, you believe you have won because you have achieved your objective and; just as importantly; the other person has not gotten their way.

Think of this in another way. There are many people in this world who are unhappy because they look around and see people whom they think have a better life or, are more successful than them. Rather than admire the success of these people; they are jealous and bitter towards them and if possible, they will act to drag that person down rather than build themselves up to a similar level of happiness and success.

True happiness comes from focusing on being the best version of yourself that you can be. You don’t need to put others down, drag them down or be bitter and jealous towards them. Such negative behaviour is a sign of great weakness. And you will never be strong because strong people know that to achieve great things, you must be able to work well with others. Even difficult people.

Key Point

The right mindset for dealing with difficult people is to focus on being your best self while helping to bring the best out of the other person. You don’t view things as a competition and where possible, you work to find a win-win solution.


2

Show respect

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Show respect even to people who do not deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.

If you are anything like me, you have probably had a tendency to react badly when somebody mistreats you. You see there bad behaviour as a statement of your worth or value i.e. they treat you badly because they believe you are a low value person.

It took me a long time to realise that this was thinking the wrong way around. I am not responsible for somebody else’s behaviour. When somebody treats me badly, it is not a reflection of who I am as a person. It is, however, a reflection of who they are as a person. If they treat you badly, it suggests that they are cruel and weak. If they treat you well, even when you feel you don’t deserve it, is a sign of strength and kindness.

The very same rules apply to you. If you respond to bad treatment with bad treatment of your own, the other person’s behaviour is not saying anything about you but your behaviour is. It is saying that you are weak and cruel. You cannot control the behaviour of others so you should focus on exhibiting the best possible behaviour yourself. And, when you do, you will often find that your strength and kindness influence the other person to behave in a more appropriate manner.

Key Point

As Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in World’  When people treat you badly, don’t tell them how they should have treated you. Show them by exhibiting the very best behaviour with strength and kindness.

Having the right mindset makes it easier to deal with difficult people

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3

Be thankful

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I am thankful for the difficult people in my life. They have shown me exactly who I don’t want to be.

Nobody is born perfect. We are all fallible human beings. No matter how bad the behaviour you witness, you must remember that you are capable of that behaviour too. What prevents you from behaving that way is choice and self-discipline. You should never take your good behaviour for granted. It takes practice and commitment to ensure that you keep showing the world the very best of who you are.

When somebody we know suffers great misfortune, we usually realise how fortunate we are not to experience the same and we may even take action to ensure we don’t e.g. you might go to see your doctor and have the necessary checkups.

You can use this same mindset for dealing with difficult people. When you suffer some bad behaviour, see it as a warning that you must not behave the same way. Then review your own behaviour to ensure you don’t act that way. This allows you to learn lessons from somebody else’s mistakes before you are forced to learn them from your own mistakes.

Key Point

Problematic situations are much easier to deal with when you choose to view them as an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson.


4

Remain calm

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Today, I will not allow myself to stress over things I cannot control. I declare that I will remain calm.

If you talk to experts in any area of crisis management, there will be one piece of advice which they will all give you – stay calm. When you think about staying calm, you way well think that it is beyond your control i.e. either you stay calm or you don’t but it is not up to you.

It is a common mistake to think that it is the situation which determines your reaction. This just isn’t true. 100 different people will react differently to a crisis/emergency because each one chooses their own reaction. The reaction is often chosen in an instant and it may appear to be reflex but in all cases, it is you who chooses how you react.

This is good news because with some determination and practice, you can definitely learn to develop a mindset for dealing with difficult people which will allow you to say calm, even in the face of great adversity. Staying calm allows you to think more clearly and see all of the different options you have for dealing with the situation. You can then do a much better job at finding a resolution which pleases both parties.

Key Point

When you get stressed out, you do not access the more rational parts of your brain which make better situations. Both your body and mind think you are in danger and the first thought is for self-preservation; which may be useful in stressful situations but is not the right mindset for dealing with difficult people.

You can improve your communication and relationship skills with my FREE Checklist - Do's and Don'ts of Dealing with Difficult People.


5

Develop calming habits

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One of the best lessons you can learn in life is to master how to remain calm.

As indicated in the previous point, you can learn to remain calm under pressure. Some people may be born with a little more ability to remain calm but , remaining calm is a learned behaviour. So, if you are not so good at it right now; with determination and practice, you can learn to remain calm even under severe pressure.

There are many different approaches to improving your ability to remain calm and the following will certainly help:

  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Getting proper sleep
  • Lowering your blood pressure
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Reducing your caffeine intake

There are many more things you can do to improve your ability to remain calm. It is up to you to find what works best for you but when you do, you will start to develop the right mindset for dealing with difficult people.

If you need help developing the right mindset for dealing with difficult people, check out The Dealing with Difficult People Handbook.


Conclusion

Difficult people can be absolute head wreckers. They don’t give you a minute’s peace and they blow every small issue out of all proportion. It can take a lot of effort to deal with difficult people and in some cases, it may be best to ease them out of our life in the politest and kindest way you can manage. But in most cases, you are going to have to deal with these difficult people. It is a lot easier to do so when you have developed a mindset for dealing with difficult people. A mindset for dealing with difficult people will allow you to stay focused on your own behaviour, ensure you behave to your very best, remain calm and find the best possible solution for both parties. When you manage all of this, you will build better relationships while eliminating a great deal of stress.