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3 Steps to Put Difficult People in Their Place


Speaker for Healthcare ConferenceI have a friend who is very difficult. The problem is, she doesn't even know it. How can you have relationships -multiples, not just one- filled with conflict and not know you are the source?

My experience is that difficult people are impenetrably hard to deal with for two reasons:

  1. They get away with it. We let these miserable misfits stomp on our delicate optimism. It hurts, so we avoid them or pretend they don't bother us and they get away with it.
  2. They get something out of it. We avoid them, so they end up with less work, fewer interruptions,less difficult assignments. We don't challenge their ideas because we know effects of their wrath.

When I was speaker for a Physician Recruitment Healthcare Conference in Boston, there were several sessions on dealing with difficult people... with apologies to doctors!

One of the other speakers for the healthcare conference showed research that suggests that difficult people get better shifts, more pay, and they work with better people. In short,they are getting a lot out of their tirades.

If you let difficult people bring you down, realize that your quality of life is more important than you think. This person's random episodes of misery are affecting your buoyant optimism and ability to remain positive. You must confront and deal with difficult behavior.

3 Steps to Deal with Difficult People:

  1. Decide what it is that bothers you about their behavior and how you will communicate this to them. Be specific.
  2. Choose a time when conflict is low to express what bothers you about their behavior. Don't get defensive; stick to the facts.
  3. Get agreement and a commitment for change.

My experience is that difficult people respect when others stand up to them. Some may not even be aware of the behavior that has become habitual for them.

In some cases you may have to agree to disagree. In the case of my friend, when I tell her what bothers me, she refuses to listen and accept responsibility. In some relationships (when you have a choice) you just have to assess if this is worth it. Either you cut your losses and move on, or you consciously decide to pay the price for the sake of the relationship.

As a speaker for the healthcare conference my motivational speech was about Levity. We discussed how to use humor to keep conflict and tension low and morale high.

Check here more motivational speaker resources on dealing with conflict with humor.


I work with a guy, that sems to think that his way of doing things is the only way of doing things. He'll verbally let you know this, and will go on and on until one of you has literally left the building. It annoys me, that he just can't express how he feels and let it go. The more he harps about it, the more I can feel myself getting pissed, but, of course I don't let on that he's making me mad. I just keep that smile on my face.
Posted @ Monday, December 10, 2012 9:25 AM by Campbell
Campbell - 
As the saying goes, don't get mad... get even! Works wonders. Trust me.
Posted @ Tuesday, February 05, 2013 6:37 AM by brutus
This is a bad idea, don't make yourself appear to be weak to them by telling them to their face you think they are rude or come to an agreement, this just makes you in turn seem weak for accepting it. What YOU do is talk to them in the same manner they talk to you, forcefully, demoralizing, however is reciprocated on you, or simply act normal and dont give them any cues to their demeanor affecting you. This will show they have no power over you and just makes them exert more effort trying to get a hold over you. Stand your ground.
Posted @ Thursday, February 07, 2013 8:59 PM by Anon
Everyday is a new chances to make. Impressive page in here indeed. Thanks!
Posted @ Friday, October 11, 2013 9:59 AM by sell my house dallas
There is a bully that I work with 
she is mean to everyone at one point in time 
or another. But seems as if there are two other people that 
are following her lead, but they seem to say things 
have a hidden meaning to them. they will show me a joke about someone  
being a pain in the a--,and they will laugh and say oh you thought we ment you 
body language seems to play a big role with them as well.I have caught them talking about 
me and I just ignore them. 
How in the world do you deal with people like this.
Posted @ Thursday, February 13, 2014 7:15 PM by SALLY
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