dealing with difficult peopleDifficult people!

Hmmm…how good are you at handling them?

Speaking for myself…I used to be rubbish.  Jumping from one response to another, yet never quite getting the hang of it.  I was useless at managing conflict of any kind.

I knew these people drained my energy.  And I also knew they didn’t force their way into my reality…I actually let them in!

And once there, I didn’t know how to manage the whole darn thing.  It was like dealing with porcupines and not being able to avoid the pain of the quills being thrown in my direction.

But no more.  I learned some valuable lessons along the way…though it took me more years than I’m willing to confess right here.  🙂

And to save you the trouble of learning similar lessons here’s what I discovered that worked in my life.

May it work for you dear ones…so that you too can find a way to deal with difficult people and avoid the porcupine quills all together.

1. Begin with compassion

Let me guess?  This isn’t what you wanted to hear.

But sometimes The difficult people who cross our path in life can often turn out to be our greatest teachers.

I’ll let you in to a little secret. The best way to deal with difficult people is to first see their fear and not your annoyance.

Getting upset or annoyed and thinking of them as ‘difficult’ people will only make the situation worse.  We tend to get more of what we’re focused on.  You knew that. Right?

One of the best thing my mum told me was…everyone is doing the best they can at the time and that was long before the very eloquent Maya Angelou said “We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better.”

Once I remembered this, it turned out to be a great starting point for dealing with difficult people.

And if that doesn’t work…

2. Take control of your boundaries


guard your spaceThis was a huge learning curve for me.

I knew we didn’t have control over others and can’t stop them from pushing our buttons.  But it took a little while before I learned that we, you and me, do have control over our responses…though not so much our reactions!

So sometimes you need to buy yourself some time to set up a response and not a reaction.  Maybe even deciding ahead of time how you’re going to respond to that difficult person who shows up in life.

And they will, if not today, some soon day!

This requires awareness.  Awareness comes before choice, before taking control. And choice is what will give you the results you seek.

Be aware of who you’re dealing with and then you can respond accordingly.

Decide when and where you’ll just smile and walk away and where you’ll engage.

And then don’t allow those difficult people to walk all over the boundaries that keep you sane.

3. Separate yourself from the blessing blockers

You might not be able to separate yourself physically from difficult people.  They may be your boss or a family member. But you can emotionally separate yourself from the conflict.

You can prevent their negativity from controlling how you feel, especially if you remember those negative feelings you’re getting pulled into are blocking the blessings that life is trying to give you.

Truth be told no one can control your emotions unless you let them.  Simple answer.  Don’t let them.

You can emotionally separate yourself by mentally say to yourself  “This is simply a part of the learning experience called ‘life.”

This gives you the opportunity to remain calm and disengaged and stop you from getting pulled down the rabbit hole of negativity.

You can make it even easier if you can remember that trying to explain something to those who are committed to misunderstanding you is a giant waste of your time and energy and won’t make anything remotely better.

Final thoughts

saying no to difficult peopleIf all else fails and the above isn’t working for you.  Remove yourself from the situation as soon as you can.

Why wait until you’re exhausted and depleted of energy.  There’s never a need to martyr yourself. You are as precious and valuable as the next person.

So even if you have the best of intentions and nothing is working…you have to consider that your withdrawal could be part of the miracle of the Universe, bringing to you and the other person just what is needed for your growth and expansion.

And finally bear in mind that dealing with difficult people isn’t the easiest thing in the world for some of us, so be as kind and compassionate to yourself as you would be to someone you cared for who was struggling with a challenge.

You’re on this planet to live your life at the greatest level possible, not to be intimidated by difficult people who are living out their own personal challenges.

Don’t let them get to you.  You are a wonderful, amazing soul and life is good despite the occasional encounter with those who seldom ever manage to have anything good to say.

Encourage one another.

Love Elle


Elle Sommer is the author of 4 books and a workbook. Her latest publications are a series called The Power of Consciousness, and you will find all three books in this trilogy now available on Kindle. She shares quotes, inspiration and positive vibes on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And her greatest desire is to encourage and inspire others to create not just a good life, but a phenomenal life.


  1. Great tips, Elle! This is such an important skill to learn because it’s impossible to avoid “difficult” people altogether, and they can have such a huge impact on our energy and emotions. And I think we need a mix of approaches like this, since every situation and person is a little different. I’m all for compassion, but sometimes I need to set my boundaries too.

  2. I agree so much with the points of this post, Elle. Compassion for the difficult people in our lives is often the hardest thing to do, but also the most helpful, surprisingly,for us!

  3. Hi Elle,

    These are great tips for dealing with difficult people that we all encounter at some point in our lives. I love your first suggestion of beginning with compassion. When someone is difficult, I always wonder what is the backstory. Something is going on with this person that is coming out in negative ways. Compassion helps. When you get to the root of the problem, things can start to change.

  4. This really touched me. I’ve recently watched two family members go through some very difficult times. One just cut himself off from another. I wish I could tell him about your compassion tip and removing oneself emotionally without the hurt that it’s caused the other family member. But there’s nothing to be done by me. Just to wait and hope. I will somehow try to get my family members to read this.
    Thank you Elle!

    • Hi Betsy…so sorry to hear about your family members and hopefully everything can be resolved with grace and peace. 🙂

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