3 Secret Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People

Difficult people can inhabit (and intrude into) many areas of our lives: work, home, neighborhood, social and professional affiliations, even at the sanctuary of the gym! Whether someone acts defensive, rude, passive-aggressive, critical, or lies and then turns things around, difficult people have something in common: they are frustrating to deal with.

In an already stressful world, having to interact with difficult people can take its toll, especially when those challenging people are family, co-workers, bosses, or neighbors (in other words, people who you have to see on a continuous basis). However, there are some tactics that may help you keep your sanity — and sense of control — intact. Listed below are some of my personal favorites that have helped me.

Have a Clear Goal

Over two decades ago, I was visiting my dear friend Amy, who was dying of lung cancer. Even though I was there to take care of her, she decided to give me a gift that I still use to this day and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. The gift was a simple but powerful sentence: “When you have to confront someone, make sure to have a clear goal in mind.” (Kindhearted and thoughtful Amy knew that I had to deal with a number of difficult people). Driving away from her house on that brisk Autumn afternoon, I found myself nodding my head in agreement.

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