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How to Deal with Difficult People

November 1, 2013 By Ruth Seebeck 1 Comment

There are times when two people need to step apart from one another, but there is no rule that says they have to turn and fire. ~ Robert Brault

Does it seem like people are more on edge than they used to be? We’re busier, more stressed, with more demands on our time, money and patience than we could ever have imagined. Tempers flare, and relationships are challenged because of it.

It’s easy to lose your peace when confronted with difficult people. You know who they are: family and friends (sometimes, it’s even us!), co-workers and clients, even casual contacts throughout your day. Harsh words, bad attitudes and selfishness can spike your temper and raise your stress level.

I got on my high-horse recently with my husband because he wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do as quickly as I wanted. (Don’t we get demanding, sometimes?) He got mad because I was so impatient. When I recognized my own attitude was wrong, I told him, “Honey, you’re going to have to forgive me. I am my father’s daughter, and I was not very nice.” Since we both know how difficult my dad could be, we laughed – and he took care of the thing I had asked for. Laughter is a great diffuser. Be ready to laugh at your own unreasonable attitudes – and in the midst of tense situations. Done correctly, without accusation, it can provide instant relief.

Nothing is worth the price of your peace. Be quick to step away, or to apologize if your own attitude becomes antagonistic. You can apologize for the WAY you said something, even if you don’t apologize for WHAT you said.

To help you keep your peace, you need to develop some self-defense tactics – a mental arsenal to protect your emotions. Here are five keys you can use to calm your emotions and maintain your peace.

Shrug … A soft answer turns away wrath … (Prov. 15:1) “Oh, well!” is very effective. Surrender your self-righteous anger and hurt. Instead, show mercy – compassionate forgiveness. Assume that you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even better, ask them what is really stressing them out. Perhaps what they need is someone to listen.


Bite your tongue … O that ye would altogether hold your peace!( Job 13:5)Responding to a negative situation with more anger and sharp words only magnifies the problem. Instead, respond in love. Learn to follow the admonition of I Cor. 13: Love … is not touchy, fretful or resentful; it … pays no attention to a suffered wrong. (v. 4-6 AMP).

Sit on it … To every thing there is a season … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecc. 3:1, 7) Time puts things in better perspective. Walk away. Table the issue for later discussion. If you can’t get away, change the subject. For an issue that must be addressed, set up a mutually agreeable time in a neutral location. Share over a cup of coffee or dessert at your fav restaurant.

Forget-about-it! … Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. ~ Ps. 37:8

Mentally revisiting the conversation or situation over and over in your mind is like repeatedly pulling the scab off an injury. It never heals. Stop the madness! Capture every negative thought (“I should-a said …”). You can’t redo or undo a conversation, no matter how much you want to.

Move on … And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strive, I pray thee, between me and thee … (Gen. 13:8). Sometimes the best thing you can do is put distance between you and the conflict. Abraham and Lot separated from each other when tensions between their workers escalated. Practice love from a distance if necessary. If the problem lives in the same house with you, create mental and emotional distance for yourself (see above suggestions). Don’t get pulled into their issues.

These tactics work even if you are not a principal player in the drama. My friend gets very tired of listening to her family argue and snipe at each other. She’s also learned that no amount of negotiation works. The combatants’ habits are so ingrained that they are unaware of the pain they cause others who have to hear their angry words and see their bad attitudes.

You’ve heard the expression, “hurting people hurt people”. Most people don’t get up in the morning determined to be mean and nasty or selfish and uncaring. They’ve just got ‘stuff’ going on in their lives, stresses that surface in sometimes inappropriate ways. Don’t take it personally. Instead, try these simple tips and keep your peace.


  1. longchamp store says:
    June 20, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    First off I would like to say excellent blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.

    I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I’ve had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints? Cheers!