Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Difficult People and Vital Questions

by DrJudy on

Difficult people often require your ability to use a wide range of strategies and techniques to handle these people and the situations that they produce. So to assist you in dealing with difficult people, here are some important questions that are part of your range of strategies to use.


Whenever you are dealing with people behaving badly it is important that you are able to get yourself into a ‘mind space’ where you are able to reduce your emotions and respond calmly. Whatever role you play with these people in the workplace – employer, employees, colleagues or in your personal life – partner, siblings, relatives or others.


So how do you quickly find a way to calm yourself down and reduce your emotional response? One strategy is to use a series of questions to ask yourself these questions below. The questions help you to find some degree of ’emotional distance’ and give you some perspective on the situation and the difficult person or people who are dealing with. When you are too emotional it is impossible to be able to think clearly about how to handle difficult situations and people. Using these questions can be very effective in helping you gain focus, perspective and a degree of calmness.


So here are the questions to ask yourself…

1. Who really owns the problem?
2. Why am I getting so distressed about this person?
3. What is really and truly at stake here?
4. How significant is this person in my life?
5. What is the best I can hope to get out of this?

Your answers will then help you have a degree of emotional distance, so you can decide how you will then respond. Keep these questions in mind when dealing with difficult people.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Russell August 14, 2012 at

Excellent concept and list of questions to consider. I would add one more question when coping with the people you are in regular contact with: is the difficult behavior unusual or is part of a pattern? Some people are more difficult when they are having a bad day (not a good excuse, by the way). We may chose to cut them some slack if that’s the case. On the other hand if the behavior becomes predictable, then a more confrontive approach may be the best choice.

DrJudy August 16, 2012 at

Hi Rob,
Thanks for your suggestion regarding adding a further question when coping with difficult people. Your point about whether this is an irregular or regular pattern by this person is also very important to consider.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us on dealing with difficult people.

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