How Do You Deal With Difficult People At Work?

The workplace is full of people from different cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities, mindsets, talents, and abilities you name it. our differences are beautiful and they color our world. If we were all the same, the world would not have its beauty.

However, despite our efforts to be to interact and create productive relationships, sometimes we come across difficult people and they make our lives hard. At work, it is sometimes inevitable to work with difficult people. At some point in our work life, we interact with a difficult person and it is not always that we handle them with grace or professionally.

Knowing how to handle difficult people at work is one of the most essential soft skills an employee can possess. Before we look at how we can effectively work with difficult people, let us first understand the types of difficult people.


The Hard to Please

At work, you might encounter a person who is hard to please. This can be extremely difficult for you especially if they are your supervisor or manager. This person can be pushing you too hard, or their opinions always seem to differ from yours. Further, you can be doing your best and this person always frustrates you by showing you as if all your work is useless.

The Manipulators

This kind of person tends to manipulate others to their own advantage. They use the shortcomings and weaknesses of others and manipulate them to get what they want. The manipulators are difficult to work with as they damage the esteem and confidence of others by magnifying weaknesses and downplaying their strengths.

The Toxic Colleagues

These are the kind of people that carry around negative energy everywhere. They seem to be irritated by the least provocation and you feel as if you are walking on eggshells around them. Further, they tend to play people against each other and thrive in drama and unhealthy environments.

The Unreasonable One

This is the kind that refuses to use logic to reason out situations. They cannot be convinced about something and often lack emotional control and regulation. The unreasonable people refuse to acknowledge the opinions of others and act that their way is the only right way.

The above don’t necessarily sum up all the kinds of difficult people we encounter at work but shed light on the kind of people we are likely to meet.


Empathy is one of the hardest soft skills to possess yet one of the most important. Most difficult people behave the way they do because of some frustrations in their personal life or their upbringing. By being empathetic, you try to understand why they behave the way they do and not judge them.

For example, if your supervisor is being unreasonable and refusing to accept the opinion of others, from a point of empathy, you may understand that this person behaves this way because they are insecure. An insecure person is often concerned that when you air your opinion you are challenging their intelligence or talent or even undermining their authority.

You Can’t Control The Actions Of Others But You Can Control How You React To Them

You may lose your cool when you interact with difficult people but unfortunately, that makes things worse. When your colleague or manager is being difficult, you can react with anger and unfortunately, that will make things more difficult for you.

By learning emotional regulation, you can learn to change your attitude and choose how to respond to difficult people. You don’t have control over what they do but you have control over how you react.

In such situations, choose to be the bigger person and manage your attitude. Choose your peace over active confrontation with difficult people. Often, they thrive in drama and will respect you when you don’t get sucked into their drama.

Seek Help

Manipulators, toxic people, and different kinds of difficult people can be a bit too much for someone to handle. It can reach a point where it is abused and can ruin a healthy working environment.

You can seek help by taking up a soft skills course to help you learn emotional regulation on how to deal with difficult people. Further, you can report the person to HR if their difficulty has reached the point of abuse and ask them to take action.

Approach The Issue With The Person

Many of us shy away from confrontation and yet by getting ourselves heard, we sometimes help resolve issues. Most difficult people such as manipulators and bullies do so because they expect to get away with it. When you stand for yourself, they become surprised and will stop making you a target.

If you feel a person is bullying or trying to manipulate you, let them know that this is what you think and that you will not allow it to happen. Bullies often do not expect someone to stand up to them and will often withdraw their tactics when they stand up for themselves.

Conclusively, working with difficult people is inevitable and they can make the workplace unbearable. However, by improving your soft skills, creating strong relationships and alliances at the workplace can help you create a work environment that you don’t dread reporting to every day.

The Destiny Team