By in Relationships

How to Interact with Difficult People

We all have to deal with difficult people from time to time. Whatever sphere of life we are in, there is no guarantee that we will get on with the people we have to interact with and we cannot always walk away. I learned some useful tips when I was a teacher of adults that I apply in many other situations I am in. I do not always succeed, but the techniques do help in many cases.

The technique is very simple and I learned it in a course on Transactional analysis.

  • If you are an adult, then you answer an adult as an adult.

Adults who want to get a rise out of you will begin in a childish mode. You do not have to descend to their level. Adults who are adults speak to each other as adults. Many adults act like children when they feel someone else is in authority.

  • You never let an adult force an childish response or action from you.

People who want to harm you professionally, spiritually, mentally, will try to make you into the kind of person who responds like a child. Look at how they make you want to behave and then think about whether you are giving a "grown up" response.

  • If an adult is acting childishly you bring the person UP to your level by talking to them as a adult no matter how childishly they are behaving or talking to you.

This really works for me! The other person is acting out. You refuse to go into child mode with them. You speak to them as if they are a grown up. The childish person will find it hard to carry on and find themselves responding in a grown up manner.

  • You talk to someone trying to belittle you in adult mode.

There is nothing more annoying than another adult talking to you as if you are a child. Beware of acting like one and letting them get the power. You talk back to them as if you are also a grown up and this forces them to talk to you like one. If you feel put down then go into adult mode. Don't act out yourself or act like a child in your response.

  • Refuse to be the child in a relationship

Very few people can resist returning to being adults if they are treated like an adult but the moment you allow them to put you into child mode, then you are sunk.

  • Be the Leader and not the follower in the relationship so both of you end as equal grown ups.

Neither of you should end up being the parent unless you really need for some reason, to get the authority, and that should be rare.

Once an adult responds to an adult who is in child mode as a child then the two of you begin acting like children and one of you has to take the lead and be the grown up again.

This might not work for every relationship (especially if the other person knows what you are doing as they did the course, but it usually helps. It works in letters and with Facebook comments too.

If you would like to look at the idea in more depth here is a set of videos that might help . There are many on Youtube.

Image Credit » by steinchen

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MegL wrote on April 9, 2015, 12:53 PM

I love transactional analysis. It's a very interesting subject.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on April 9, 2015, 1:32 PM

So true. You can't control how other people treat you, but you can control how you respond. In the end, it's not what others do that you have to answer for. It's the actions that you take in response.

cmoneyspinner wrote on April 9, 2015, 1:40 PM

My general approach to approaching a “difficult” person is to pray first – for them and for me. “If a man's ways please the Lord, He can make even his enemies be at peace with him.” That's what I believe. It's what I do. If it becomes absolutely necessary, I just won't approach them at all. Some folks are just unreasonable – no matter how far you bend over or move over trying to be at peace with them. That's a fact. The only way to deal with them is not to deal with them at all because they don't know the meaning of compromise, give and take, or just recognizing that they got a bad attitude supplemented by bad behavior and they need to make a change! Their momma done raised them. I'm not gonna raise them again! Simplistic thinking, but it works for me.

HappyLady wrote on April 9, 2015, 3:06 PM

Praying first is always wise. However, we still have to have some form of interaction. I find this helpful when ministering too as it can lift the person into a better space to see a spiritual solution.

Kasman wrote on April 9, 2015, 3:34 PM

Yeah, but sometimes all you want to do is poke them in the eye!

valmnz wrote on April 9, 2015, 4:50 PM

It really is a case of showing you have control of your own actions, isn't it. I respond to a difficult person by being overly nice or positive. Even agreeing with them in a nice way can throw them off course.

Feisty56 wrote on April 9, 2015, 5:12 PM

Fortunately, I don't run into this sort of situation often, except with my 80+ year-old mother who yet treats me as if I am 10.

allen0187 wrote on April 13, 2015, 9:43 PM

These are great tips! Thanks for sharing these. Some people simply get a kick from being difficult - I just don't understand that.

CoralLevang wrote on April 20, 2015, 5:54 PM

Wise advice. Often times, however, if you cannot influence others by practicing this behavior, you have to walk away from the situation (literally and figuratively).