Tips for dealing with difficult people calmly.

Tips for dealing with difficult people calmly.

Are you happy and empowered? It’s your choice. Did you know that you’re in charge of your own emotional state? Yep. That’s right. no-one can make you feel anything unless you let them.

Have you noticed yourself ever saying or thinking something similar to this…. He yelled at me and made me feel like I was a failure. Here’s the format – He/ She/ They (action) and made me feel (emotion).  You may or may not have realised already, there is a GAP between what someone does and says to you, and how you choose to interpret it.

Someone could call you a nasty name or say something hurtful, and you could choose to:

  • Feel hurt and take their comments as a personal attack.
  • Feel angry and say something nasty and hurtful back.
  • Feel angry and stew about what you could have said for the rest of the day.
  • Feel sorry for them and ask them if they’ve had a bad day.
  • Feel curious and ask them why they are saying that.
  • Punch them in the face.
  • Laugh.
  • Walk away.
  • Ignore it.
  • or any of a million other options…

How you choose to act in response (notice I didn’t say react) to what other people do or say to you has to do with…

  • your own internal maps, beliefs and ideas,
  • how empowered and worthy you feel as a human being,
  • how much you value the other person’s thoughts and opinions,
  • how much you understand that other people’s actions may not have anything to do with you, even if they are directed at you,
  • how much you seek external approval or validation of your own worth,
  • your own ego-strength,
  • your base emotional state prior to the interaction,
  • your knowledge of the other person,
  • your compassion for the other person,
  • your knowledge of how to change your own state.


If you have a low level of ego-strength and self-worth, and look to other people to validate and support you, you are likely to be very vulnerable to be affected by other people’s emotions and actions. You are likely to take their opinion personally and be at the effect of their actions.

If you have a high sense of ego-strength and self-worth, and can self-validate then you are more likely to be more compassionate for the other person and realise that it’s probably not about you, and even if it is, getting emotional about the problem will not help to solve it. If you care a lot about the persons opinion, you might attempt to extract the key feedback from the interaction, in order to decide whether to take it on board or not. You are not likely to take their opinion personally, understanding that it is just their opinion, and take responsibility for your own emotions and actions in the interaction.

How to do it.

  1. Remember, what people say about or to you has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with their own perceptions, based on their experiences and life.
  2. If it gets heated, repeat to yourself: “This is not about me. This is about them. What are they trying to communicate?”
  3. Keep breathing steadily and evenly.
  4. Allow yourself to find a state of curiosity, actively wonder why they are acting the way they are.
  5. Keep silent for a few seconds.
  6. When you speak, speak calmly and with an even tone.
  7. Ask questions to find out what the key message is. Focus on what outcome the person is after.
  8. Name their emotion.. “I notice you are quite angry, have you noticed that?”
  9. Set your boundaries and ask them not to speak to you like that.
  10. Maintain curiosity. Focus on what’s useful. Ignore the rest. When the interaction is over, move on and focus on what you are doing next.

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