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Dealing With Difficult People
By: Susan Fee

Is there a jerk in your life? Someone who’s driving you crazy? Someone who is unreasonable no matter what you try? Read on for strategies in how to deal with difficult people.

You Teach Others How to Treat You. Get this relationship rule, and you’ll relieve a lot of stress in your life. People can’t push your buttons unless you show them the panel! Have you had a string of jerks in your life? What’s the constant factor? Take responsibility for your interactions and the relationship will follow.

Lose the Victim Mentality. Dealing with difficult people can be exhausting. And most of the energy drain comes from blaming them for making your life miserable. Blaming others is the same as turning over all your power. It’s saying that other people control your outcome. Responding as a victim is a choice that automatically gives the other person the upper hand.

Communicate Assertively. Assertive communication is respecting your rights as well as the rights of others. That’s far different than an aggressive style that violates the rights of others, or passive, in which you violate your own rights. Speaking assertively is taking ownership of your feelings and requests.

Focus on Future Behavior. People are never the problem – their behavior is. What is he or she doing that you’d like to see change? If you can’t answer that question, you’re not ready to have a conversation. All a person can change is future behavior. A conversation filled with personal attacks and a history of mistakes generates defensiveness. Specifically, what are you requesting be changed so your future relationship can improve?

What’s Negotiable? When it comes to your relationships, what’s negotiable and non-negotiable? What standards do you have that, no matter what, you will not allow to be violated? These are your boundaries for defining the relationship. Once a boundary is crossed, ask yourself what’s keeping you in the relationship? If a non-negotiable becomes negotiable, re-read the first tip. Know When to Walk Away. Not all relationships are worth saving. It’s time to walk away when you’re putting in more energy than you could ever hope to reasonably receive.

Susan Fee is a licensed counselor and communications expert. She is the author of Positive First Impressions: 83 Ways To Establish Confidence, Competence, and Trust and My Roommate Is Driving Me Crazy! Solve Conflicts, Set Boundaries, And Survive The College Roommate From Hell (Adams Media). She can be reached at

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