Wellness tips to handle complicated people

Wellness tips to handle complicated people

Jan 01, 2023Zaryab Fayyaz

Difficult people are everywhere. Difficult people are those who frustrate us to no end. We encounter difficult people at home, in the workplace, school, and grocery market, anywhere.

But have you ever thought about why it is so difficult to handle complicated people?

There’s probably not an easy answer for why some people are difficult to deal with, the reasons are as varied as the people are. We are all different and sometimes, it’s shocking that we get along as well as we do.

Instead of analysing why some people can be so difficult, let’s focus on what we can control, which is our reactions. Let’s look at 20 expert techniques to deal with difficult people.

  1. Listen

 Listening is the number one step in dealing with "unreasonable" people. Everyone wants to feel heard. No progress can take place until the other person feels acknowledged. While you're listening, really focus on what the other person is saying, not what you want to say next.

  1. Stay calm

 When a situation is emotionally charged, it's easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment. Monitor your breathing. Try to take some slow, deep breaths.

  1. Don’t judge

You don't know what the other person is going through. Chances are if a person is acting unreasonable, they are likely feeling some sort of vulnerability or fear.

  1.  Reflect respect and dignity toward the other person

No matter how a person is treating you, showing contempt will not help productively resolve the situation.

  1. Look for the hidden need

 What is this person really trying to gain? What is this person trying to avoid?

  1.  Look for others around you who might be able to help

 If you’re at work and there’s an irate customer, quickly scan to see if a colleague is close by.

  1.  Don't demand compliance

For example, telling someone who's upset to be quiet and calm down will just make him or her irate. Instead, ask the person what they are upset about—and allow them to vent.

  1. Say kind words

Saying, "I understand," usually makes things worse. Instead, say, “Tell me more so I can understand better.”

  1. Don’t laugh on anyone

Avoid smiling, as this may look like you are mocking the person. Similarly, humour can sometimes lighten the mood, but more often than not, it’s risky and it may backfire.

  1. Don’t act defensively

This is tough. You’re naturally not enjoying the other person saying nasty things or things that you know aren’t true. You’re going to want to defend yourself. But the other person is so emotionally revved up, it’s not going to help. Remember, this is not about you. Don’t take it personally. (I know, easier said than done.)

  1. Don’t return anger with anger

 Raising your voice, pointing your finger, or speaking disrespectfully to the other person will add fuel to an already heated situation. Use a low, calm, even monotone voice. Don't try to talk over the person. Wait until the person takes a breath and then speaks.

  1. Don't argue or try to convince the other person of anything

  2. Keep extra space between you and the other person

Your instinct may be to try to calm the other person down by putting your arm on theirs, or some other similar gesture that may be appropriate in other contexts. But if someone is already upset, avoid touch, as it might be misinterpreted.

  1. Say nice words

Saying, “I’m sorry,” or, “I’m going to try to fix this,” can go a long way toward defusing many situations.

  1. Set limits and boundaries

While some of the above tips have encouraged listening and letting the angry person vent, you also have the right to be assertive and say, “Please don’t talk to me like that.”

  1. Trust your instincts

If your gut is saying, this is going downhill fast, be ready to do what you need to do to remain safe. Look for an exit strategy.

  1. One response does not fit all

You have to remain flexible. Although these guidelines have proven effective in de-escalating tough situations, every person is unique and may respond differently.

  1. Debrief

After the situation is over, talk to someone about what happened.

  1. Discharge your own stress

You had to put your natural reactions on hold for a while. Now is the time to discharge some of that pent-up adrenaline. Go for a run. Take your dog for a walk. Don’t let the emotions stay stuck in your body.

  1. Give yourself credit for getting through an uncomfortable situation

 It takes a lot of energy not to act like a jerk when someone else is behaving badly. Don’t skip this step.

Here is a do and don’t table that you can use to build positive relationships with difficult people.



Agree with the person’s complaints

Listen attentively

Get defensive

Ask “how could it be better?”


Ask clarifying questions for precise information

Say “You’re such a whiner”

Create a problem-solving scenario: “What if…”

Be tough on the person if it’s not their usual style

Be supportive


Be sarcastic

kindly point out the person whining when he/she might not realise it

Attack the person’s ideas

Listen for a bit and then try to solve the problem with the person

Try to make the person look bad

Respect the person

Put yourself or your ideas down

Suggest alternatives to the person’s viewpoint

Take the behaviour personally

Keep your humour


Difficult people are all around us in every aspect of our lives. I have personally worked with many difficult people over the years as well as in everyday interactions with people in a wide variety of settings. I’m hopeful these 10 expert techniques to deal with difficult people will help you the next time the situation arises.

Communication with other people is such a huge key to living our lives. It’s well worth learning some techniques to deal with difficult people to help us all live happier lives.

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