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How I Deal With Difficult People

hands-people-woman-meetingI feel bad even thinking about writing this. If you knew me you’d know that I’m very careful about speaking with ill will toward anybody. I believe everyone deserves respect regardless of their habits and their countenance, but as a naturally paranoid person, I’m also very wary of people.

A lot of the things that people do have a tendency to confuse me. Over the years this confusion has turned into a relative annoyance with people, and that is something I’m very well aware that I should probably work on. That said, I think we can all agree that there are some things people do that annoy us.

I don’t think anyone is immune to this. There will always be people we prefer not to be around simply because they have a way of conducting themselves that runs counter to the way we feel like things should be conducted.

These annoying people can be acquaintances, friends, and even family. You can’t tell me that there haven’t been holidays when a member of your extended family got on your nerves either with flippant remarks, or their incessant questions that have a way of cutting deep, or just the fact that your obliged to be close to these people.

The point is, we all have annoying people in our lives and sometimes there’s very little that we can do to avoid them.

However, there are several things you can do to limit the amount of stress that arises from dealing with these people.

First and foremost, it’s important to keep a lid on your frustration. Do your best to treat these people with the kindness and respect everyone deserves. You never know if they’re going through a difficult time and are saying inflammatory things simply as a way of lashing out. They may have a serious problem or insecurity that they’re covering up with their behavior, and though it may not be on the surface, they deserve kindness as they work through it.

Everybody has stuff they have to deal with and treating people with respect and kindness, though difficult is always the best option.

Secondly, it’s important to be honest and stand up for yourself if the situation takes a turn for the worse. If someone treats you with disrespect and says something that you take extremely offensively don’t be afraid to speak up and express how you feel.

There’s a trick to doing this effectively. You have to do it nicely, but you also have to do it with conviction. If you show that you’re worthy of respect they’ll notice and they will probably oblige.

If all else fails, feel free to walk away if you have to. We all need to take a break from time to time and when you’re dealing with the stress of handling a difficult person, it’s perfectly okay to limit your exposure.

I know what it’s like to feel as if you’re being made fun of, and standing up for yourself with grace is one of the most important tools you can have in dealing with difficult people.

There will always be difficult people to deal with and learning that skill early can make a world of difference not only in your personal life but also at work.

How I Deal With Difficult People

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2016). How I Deal With Difficult People. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Jan 2016
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