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5 Ways to Deal with Difficult People

Negative PeopleRecently I spoke to a group of franchise employees on how to stress less to boost sales and customer service. During the break a woman approached me and pulled me aside. She whispered, “What do you do when it’s the people around you who cause you stress and make you super cranky?”

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me how to deal with difficult people, I would be a gazillionaire! I’ve shared tips about this on my podcast and talk about the spectrum of awesomeness (we’ve all been at both ends) on stage a lot because so often we fall victim to the cranky clerk, the high-demand client, the micromanager boss or the complaining co-worker. Add to that the negative people we deal with in our personal lives and we often risk stress simply by leaving the house every day to hang around other humans!

Here’s the thing though – you need to have a plan for dealing with difficult people – including what to do when YOU are the difficult person. There are many ways to approach it depending on the person, your relationship and your goals for what you want to happen with that person in the future, but here are some guidelines to help you make those Debbie and Donald Downers less draining of YOUR joy and energy.

  1. Know who sets you off. Take a scan of your network and mentally note who brings on that cloud of annoyance in you when you interact with them. Decide in advance of seeing them what you will do to counteract the stress it causes (like talking a walk before or after, taking deep breaths, etc) AND how you will deal with them in person. Will you kill them with kindness? Offer to help them? Try to flip the conversation to something positive? Compliment them to get them in a better mood? Difficult people require special handling and it may take some experimentation until you find what works for each one – and you.
  2. Talk to them about them. Everyone likes talking about themselves. When a negative person attacks, find ways to get them talking about something they love to get them into a better space. This won’t always work but give it a try.
  3. Stay your course. It’s easy to get sucked into drama, gossip or negativity when someone starts to unload on you. Know who you are and what mindset you want to maintain and never, ever let anyone else drag you down.
  4. Find support. When it feels like you’re surrounded by soul-sucking negativity, reach out to friends, family and co-workers who lift you up and energize you. If you struggle finding those people, consider attending networking events, joining clubs or trying new activities that put you in contact with new and more uplifting people. You could even invite the negative person along and get them in a better mood too!
  5. Distance yourself. When possible, stay away from the negative offenders in your life. Sometimes it’s impossible when it’s a family member, close friend or co-worker, but as much as you can try to separate yourself from anyone who sucks you dry.

SHARE WITH ME! How do you handle difficult people so they don’t drag you down?