Dealing With Difficult People


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Updated: 7/13/2012 1:53 pm Published: 7/12/2012 4:37 pm


Everyone has that one person in their life… someone negative who can’t see the bright side of things or who lashes out and is intentionally hurtful toward others. It is possible to handle these difficult people gracefully and to keep your cool. Carrie Little from Family & Children’s Services is here to share some ideas for dealing with difficult people in your life.

First of all, you say that it’s not a good idea to match negativity with negativity. Why?

Finding healthy ways to cope with difficult people brings multiple benefits. You’ll worry less, have a clearer mind and a more positive outlook yourself. And dealing with negative people in a healthy way can actually even impact – in a positive way – your physical health.

What kinds of people are typically the most difficult to get along with?

Anyone who thinks differently and acts differently than you do can be difficult for you to identify with and therefore get along with. But beyond that we all know of a few strong personality types that can be difficult in any situation. The Steamroller (that forceful and intimidating person who isn’t afraid to get in your face and yell), The Critic (that person in your life who makes it a mission to make you a better person by criticizing everything you do), and the Wet Blanket (that person who is pessimistic and cynical no matter what) are a few.

What can you do to cope with those personality types?

For the Steamroller,

Avoid a Power Struggle
Sometimes ignoring is the best tactic when you are in a group. Then you can confront the situation later in private.
Don’t Be Bullied
Stand up for yourself in a positive way.
Be Self Aware
Keep track of your emotions.
Use calm low tones after you calm down.

For the Critic,

Face the critic within.
We are all at least a little critical of others.
Come to terms with your inner critic.
Put yourself in the critic’s shoes.
Knowing a person’s background can help you understand and empathize sometimes.
Don’t close your ears.
If the critic is well meaning, work on understanding what they mean and don’t tune them out.
If you really feel that he/she is mean spirited, tune it out! For The Critic who questions authority and howls out of reflex, his/her criticisms say more about him/her than about you.

For the Wet Blanket,

Have a Comeback
o When a Wet Blanket tells you something won’t work, tell them about a time when what you are suggesting DID work. If you don’t have an example, let them know that you still have faith in the idea. Stating your positive perspective shores up your own commitment.
o Combat Irrational Thinking
o Remember that the Wet Blanket’s Thinking is not based in reality.
o Keep On Keeping On and Determine Your Own Mood
o Don’t let negativity steal your drive.
o Don’t let someone else’s bad mood drive you into a bad mood. You control you.

Family & Children’s Services has a number of classes to help people manage relationships in their lives and offers individual, couples, family and group counseling too. For more information, call 918.587.9471.

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