5 Strategies For Dealing With Difficult People

“Hey Ollin, I have this person in my life who seems to be bent on making my life a living hell on regular basis. How do I deal with this situation?”

Let’s face it: although writers spend most of the time alone with their work, outside forces can really be a block to our creativity.

One of the most challenging negative forces in our lives could be a person who, for whatever reason, seems to be out to get us. Time and time again they rope us in with their drama, their negativity, or their erratic and unhealthy ways of dealing with their problems. Their behavior is hurting our ability to fulfill our purpose and follow our dreams.

That is why sometimes its necessary to know how to deal with these difficult people in our lives.

Here are five ways you can deal with that difficult person in your life who is getting in the way of you fulfilling your dream:

5 Strategies For Dealing With Difficult People

1. Realize That You Are Not The Only One

I’m going to have to give you an ego check here: you are probably not the only person this Difficult Person is out to “get.”

I know its seems hard to believe (because you are the one who is currently hurting) but truly difficult people are not just out to get you–they are out to get everyone.

It’s likely that you are not the only person who experiences difficulty with this “difficult person.” Chances are that everyone who knows this person has considerable difficulty with this person, but the reason you don’t know this is because they are all just like you: they all think that the difficult person is just out to get them and not everyone.

So both you and those around you would benefit from knowing that this Difficult Person is an equal-opportunity jerk: they are out to push everyone’s buttons, no matter the situation, and no matter who they are.

The reason it is important to realize this is because it makes you aware that the problem does not lie with you, but with the difficult person.

And this is important to know in order to take the next step, which is…

2. Do NOT Engage With Them

There is a moment right before you have an encounter with a difficult person where the difficult person drops “the bait” and you take it without realizing it.

What do I mean by he/she drops the “bait”?

I mean that they trigger something in you that they know will get you riled up, cause you to be emotional, defensive, and, of course, dramatic.

In the end, that is what the difficult person thrives on: chaos, disorder, and drama. (Oh boy, do difficult people love-love-love drama.)

One of the reasons difficult people constantly get under your skin is that they keep giving you “the bait” and you keep taking it.

The “bait” may be an off-the-hand comment about your weight (when they know fully well that you struggle with weight issues), or a sarcastic joke about your spouse (when they know fully well that you are currently having problems with your spouse), or a innocent-seeming “observation” about your finances (when they know fully well you are currently having money problems.)

It doesn’t matter what the details are, or what they choose to pick at, it just has to be something that triggers strong emotions in you and causes you to act irrationally. You can think of the difficult person as someone who is engaging in a dance: a dance of “never-ending toxic drama.” They come over to you and invite you to dance with them. If you are not fully present, you might find yourself taking their hand, and, before you know it, you are locked in a terrible dance that ends with either: A. The both of you at each others throats, or: B. You crying in the corner of your room alone, while they are somewhere else feeling validated for “winning” the “drama dance.”

Don’t let this happen to you.

When the difficult person comes along and begins to subtlety push your buttons, picture them as inviting you into the “drama dance” with them. Then politely refuse to take their hand. Don’t take their bait. Do not engage with them.

If you don’t accept their dance, then they have no partner to dance with, and they lose their power over you.

3. Walk Away

If it keeps happening that this person is causing so much chaos in your life, then try walking away every time they come around, or completely let go of this relationship.

If, however, you cannot walk away from this person for whatever reason, then try the following:

4. Remain Calm and Collected

Again, remember that the difficult person wants to dance the “drama dance” with you. If you choose not to dance this dance, then their power will deflate.

Believe it or not, difficult people do not want to appear difficult. They want it to make it look as if they are just one part of a “drama duet.” You see, if you are yelling and they are yelling, it’s harder for an outsider to see who’s the “crazy one.” So even if you assure others that the difficult person is the one who caused the chaos in the first place, the difficult person could just deflect that statement by noting how loud and dramatic you were also being.

So, in order to prevent that from happening, remain as calm and collected as possible when speaking with the difficult person. The difficult person will just become more and more difficult as a result, because now they are not just angry because they are purposely trying to create more drama, but they are also angry that you are not joining them in the escalation of that drama.

Thus, it will be clear to outsiders that they are the one’s being difficult, and not you. Believe it or not, this will embarrass the difficult person and they will be less likely to invite you to their “drama dance” in the future: because when you dance with them you make them trip and fall across the dance floor.

5. Evict Them From Your Mind As Soon As They Leave

You might not be able to prevent a difficult person from ruining a few hours of your day, but they certainly do not deserve to be able to ruin your entire day (or your entire life).

So, when the experience with the difficult person ends, make sure to evict them from your mind. Recall that nothing would give the difficult person more joy than to know that they can also cause drama for you when they are not even in the vicinity.

Don’t give them the luxury of the thought. When the difficult person leaves, immediately evict them from your mind by doing this: forgive them and send them your love.

Then, repeat after me:

“I will not allow a person’s negative energy to live rent free in my mind. If jerks seem eager to stay in my mind all day, I will evict them with compassion and forgiveness. Since there is no defense against love, they will show themselves out of the door quicker than I expect.”

much love,


Today’s Courage Exercise

If you are dealing with a difficult person right now, try all five strategies outlined in this post.

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8 comments on “5 Strategies For Dealing With Difficult People

  1. Katie Cross says:

    My husband dated a woman just like this. She was horrific. Great post!

  2. This is a great post! I am definitely going to remember the ‘drama dance’ and not accept the invitation if it’s offered to me. Really useful. Thank you.

  3. neverending1 says:

    Ollin, I live in Vegas. 100 degrees is cool. Lately, there’s been a lot of lightening, so be careful

  4. A.D. Everard says:

    Another wonderful way to move your thoughts on from a negative person, after forgiving them (because sometimes they still remain there, haunting you), is to make a mental list of ten wonderful things other people have done for you. Because you have to focus on making the list, it shifts your thinking very much to positive people and events and makes it easier to get on with your day. I find it leaves me smiling.

    Cheers to you. 🙂

    • Great idea, A.D. I’ve found mindset makes a huge difference.

      • A.D. Everard says:

        I totally agree, mindset is everything. You cannot control what another person does, but you can control how you respond to it. Once a person realizes that, it actually becomes fun to not participate in negative games, or to even walk away. You realize your own power then and it’s very liberating. 🙂

  5. Linda B says:

    Ollin, Isn’t it amazing how love and forgiveness improves any relationship? Even with those difficult people. I have had to remove a person from my circle when it became so obvious to me she was a taker and a user. In the beginning we had fun together but over the years she only comes around when she wants something of me; it can be an emotional trip or some physical thing she needs. I work on the forgiveness. I honestly dont think she knows she comes off this way, but other people that we both know see the same thing. Somehow that helps me pull away from this unhealthy relationship. I always learn from your sharing.

  6. Daveler says:

    I love strategy number one.

    I was a theatre major in college and these “difficult people” we had to contend with was mostly the faculty. I would tell my demoralized peers that you should really listen to them when they talk, especially when it’s to other people, because they’re saying those things to everyone. They told me I wasn’t as funny as I thought I was.

    I would sit in the greenroom and listen as they explained to each one of their students why they wouldn’t make it. We were primarily a Hispanic student body, and most kids were actually told that no one would hire Mexican actors. (Of course, my teachers were much more subtle about it than that.) Girls were told they were too fat (“Have you lost weight?” “Yes, actually.” “You’re going to get so many parts right now!”) I was told that I was too terrible. I was also told, when demanding my professor explain himself and his demoralization, that so were my fellow peers. At least the white males of the group got something personalized: “You’re a character actor; you’re not going to have a part until you’re fifty.”

    I think that knowing I’m not the only one helps a lot. I also try to remind myself that their opinion isn’t necessarily everyone’s, and that not everyone is on their side.

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