People are generally receptive to kindness: the types, both loud and boisterous and those exemplifying a more subtle and quiet stance. Yet, when dealing with difficult people, and depending on the extremity of such behavioral patterns, it is a challenge to decipher the form of kindness that work. The one that sticks. The pursuit of consistent kindness can waver the idea that in difficult times while dealing with difficult people, genuine expressions of this beautiful wonder at times, just do not work.
Difficult people provoke in different ways. Some may be angry people, while some are passive-aggressive people. Then some question every step a leader makes. Some do not take accountability and disperse frustrations to members of their team. There are those in this group who even gaslight and may sometimes succeed at this. Some may even take every suggestion as criticism. Then some swing high and low like a Viking ship at an amusement park carrying moods. Up and down, up and down. Though not an exhaustive list, these characteristics represent an amalgamated group consisting of factual people.
When difficult people are observed, it is clear that one person’s behavior may not bother some people. While for others, these individuals can become a challenge to interact within many situations. Therefore, in review, challenging people in the workplace may be likable to some. However, if people who are complex cause problems for others, these are abstract models that should always be addressed in the workplace and beyond.
Why are people difficult?
There are varying reasons people are difficult. One reason could stem from the root system in family units. The other could also be the work environments; some people are forced to endure. When an organization is autocratic, filled with nepotism, bureaucratic, focused on the bottom line and not the well-being of employees, and highly competitive, these unhealthy approaches can wreak havoc on employees’ overall consistent positive mental health. In some instances, the most difficult person in the workplace is kind and loving in her or his personal life. A problematic person produces specific behaviors often caused by precise circumstances.
Five primary characteristics of difficult people:
- In the world of a difficult person, it is usually all about them. They can be the lead actor in their dramatic performances. Performances so intense that they often come with an encore to assess how these performances affect others. So, to speak, they want to produce a reaction from and in the receiver. There are some levels of egocentric and narcissistic behaviors usually present in these performances.
- Asking difficult people for a minor favor may often turn into a soap opera. Usually, there is no compassion in these forms of interactions. Reminders of what they did for you are constant and never go away. Most people are held hostage in this frame of thought delivered from the mouth of a difficult person.
- Difficult people are usually victims in their minds. They pull from the past to validate the reason for current life problems to make others feel empathy for them. This behavior is generally precise while not providing any empathy toward others for their behavior. Again, it is usually all about them.
- They live in their world with no idea of the hurt and pain they cause the people in their lives. They are pretty different in the context of not speaking words into action. Some may call this flaky! Whatever descriptive arise, the behavior is disturbing.
- They blame others, cry about spilled milk, and gossip. Everyone gets accused when accountability is in question. Nothing offers quiet pleasantries, but instead, there is always a problem with everything on the face of the earth. They embellish responsible responses and will sometimes not tell the truth.
In a recent article dated May 31, 2021, the Toronto Star Newspaper stated this:
“Difficult people can cause so much anxiety that they make us want to avoid social gatherings or quit our jobs. Although this escapist mentality is tempting, it won’t resolve the issue. We can’t keep switching jobs every time someone at work annoys us, and we certainly can’t just snap our fingers and change our biological relations.”
In addition, Sheen (2018) shared:
“Rather than simply be frustrated by human behavior and disappointed in people’s conduct, remember that you have the power of choice. Choose your response wisely. Paul, the author of much of the New Testament of the Bible, describes the ideal way to respond to difficult people: [“When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly” (1 Corinthians 4:12, 13).”]
Regardless of the area of complexity, there are usually two or more people in the mix for difficult behaviors to be recognized. In part two of this post, more production of ideas on how to deal with difficult people will be discussed. The discussion will also gear toward how to use several concepts of kindness to manage this behavior, not only for ourselves but also for those affected.
Unfortunately, difficult people continue to exist. Learning to handle this behavior is paramount when any attempt is made to create the compassionate and caring environments we seek.
Sheen, J. (2018, September-October). Dealing with difficult people: How to bring out the best in people at their worst.” Vibrant Life, 34, (5). Gale Academic OneFile,
Toronto Star (2021). Tarot for dealing with difficult people; We can let a measured and thoughtful approach guide our interactions. p. B9. Gale In Context: Global Issues.