By Colleen Kettenhofen

“The disease of me often results in the defeat of us.”
Pat Riley of NBA fame

How do you move from conflict to cooperation? In this new, easy to read article, discover 10 tips for dealing with difficult people that you can apply immediately. Guaranteed!

    1. Accept, change, or reject: Know that ultimately you only have three choices in a difficult situation, and when dealing with difficult people: A) Accept the situation knowing it may never change. B) Attempt to change your relationship with them by first changing how you perceive them, and how you react. C) Reject. In other words, if the situation with this difficult person is really affecting your well-being, it may be time to reject the situation and move on.
    2. Don’t lose emotional control. When dealing with difficult people like antagonists, who purposely press your buttons, it’s imperative to stay calm. These folks are purposely trying to rattle your cage and ruffle your feathers. Don’t give them the reaction they’re trying to elicit from you.
    3. Think before you speak. Once those words are out they’re pretty hard to take back. And most likely, you have to live or work with these difficult people every day.
    4. Listen more and talk less. Let them vent – within reason. Listening is the number one tool in communication, especially when dealing with difficult people. You know people who just need to vent. Often, once you’ve let them vent, they’re more likely to listen to you because they’ve gotten it all out of their system.
    5. Step back and analyze the situation from an outside perspective. When we’re less emotionally involved and cool our jets, the answers come for how to effectively deal with these difficult people.

When Dealing With Difficult People – Keep a Journal

  1. Write in a journal. Keep a pad of paper and a pen in your car. Whenever you’re afraid you might say something you’d regret, go to your car and write out everything you’d like to say but never could. Writing is a cathartic, physical way of getting it out of your system. When you arrive home, tear it up or burn it. You wouldn’t want them to find it and become MORE difficult!
  2. Consider taking a seminar on dealing with difficult people. Practicing effective conflict-resolution skills is important both in the business world and in your personal life. Success is determined not just by what you know, or who you know, but by how well you get along with others.
  3. If you’re a manager, supervisor or team leader, consider training everyone in conflict-resolution. One of the main reasons teams fail is because the people on the team don’t like each other. It’s not necessarily the whole team. All it takes is a conflict between two people. And if they’re not trained effectively in communication skills, they start focusing more on personalities than on completing projects.
  4. Sometimes in dealing with difficult people you get what you give. Swallow your pride and give sincere, warranted appreciation to these difficult people when they deserve it. Sometimes difficult people are difficult because they feel under appreciated.
  5. Choose your battles. Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? There are times when you won’t get your way. Let it go. Know when to speak up and when to move on when dealing with difficult people.

“Part of the happiness of life consists not in fighting battles, but in avoiding them. A masterly retreat is in itself a victory.”
Norman Vincent Peale


April 18, 2007

You are free to reprint or repost this article for use in your newsletters, association publications, or intranet provided Colleen Kettenhofen’s contact information (name, website, and email) is included with the article. Colleen Kettenhofen is a Phoenix, Arizona motivational speaker, trainer, & co-author of “The Masters of Success ,” featured on NBC’s Today Show, along with Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield. For free articles, video clips, and e-newsletter, visit Colleen’s area of expertise are leadership, managing people, life balance, difficult people, presentation skills. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions and seminars.


She can be reached at contact information listed below:

Colleen Kettenhofen

(971) 212-0479


Please let us know how you plan to use this article or send an electronic tear sheet.