How to Handle Disagreeable People

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Disagreeable people can be a store clerk, colleague, relative or just about anyone to whom you come in contact. They can be whiners, no-it-alls, angry and confrontational, pushy and me first, rude, tendency to fly off the handle, manipulators, bullies, sarcastic, and resentful. Keep in mind it’s the person’s behavior that’s difficult. They can change, but it’s not your job to try to change them. Depending upon the role they play in your life, there are a number of ways you can handle encounters with them.

Minimize the time you spend with a difficult person. This is not always easy, particularly in an office setting. Your job is to focus on the task at hand. When the person’s difficult behavior kicks in, try not to get sucked into their drama and react to it. Try to remain calm. You can gain clarity about their perspective on an issue by repeating back what you think you heard them say. This can help diffuse their behavior and move the conversation or task along. Don’t try to change their mind, as it may make things worse. Applying logic is a better approach to getting them back to the task rather than to their defense or argument.

There’s usually a reason for difficult people’s behavior, whether they are defensive, aggressive or passive. We can feel compassion for their behavior and consider how hard it must be to live in a body that’s always angry, or we can think, he must have suffered a lot to pain to have wound up such a manipulator. When someone puts you down, or is rude, feeling compassion for them may not be your first thought. You might be afraid of them, and confronting their behavior is the last thing you want or can do.

In this case, it can be helpful to think who the bully reminds you of from your past. In the past you may not have been able to stand up to him or her, but with help you can learn now. The disagreeable person may be a gift towards understanding your own negative thoughts, and character flaws (we all have them), and in turn help you learn to stand up for yourself.

When handling difficult people be clear and precise in your communications with them. Don’t expect them to change. Be a witness to your reactions. Try not to take the bait. As you don’t want to stoop to their level, walk away if you feel you might say something you’ll regret. Remember, you’re in charge and you don’t have to take or listen to any grief someone wants to lay on you.


Evidence-based and built with passion. Our primary purpose at The Kimberly Center is to assist those who are suffering in finding recovery. Restoring a healthier, happier, more productive life, graduates of our program find themselves free from substance dependence and destructive behavior. Call us today for information: 855-4-KCENTER (855-452-3683)

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