Focus On Your Own Triggers To Deal With Difficult People

Focus On Your Own Triggers To Deal With Difficult People

We all have to deal with difficult people from time to time, and while it’s easy to assume that the problem is with them, focusing on that won’t make it any easier to work with them. Instead, try focusing on the things about them that trigger you — ask yourself why you get so offended or upset when you’re around them. That focus will help you defuse an otherwise unpleasant situation.

If the difficult person isn’t someone you can avoid — for example, a coworker you have to work with occasionally — you don’t have much choice but to get over your irritation and try to be productive. You may not be able to stop them from getting on your nerves, but the blog Dumb Little Man has a few suggestions for dealing with difficult personalities. The one we thought was most interesting is to take the focus off them and think instead about why they trigger you. If you can add some logic to your emotional reaction, you may be able to calm down quicker, let more of their behaviour roll off your back, or at least prepare yourself going into your dealings with them.

How do you deal with difficult personalities without resorting to violence or name-calling? We’ve discussed how you can deal with family that drive your nuts, but share your suggestions for working with that annoying coworker or dealing with an irritating friend in the comments below.

How to Deal with Difficult People and Have Constructive Conflict [Dumb Little Man]

Photo by CREATISTA (Shutterstock).


  • There is a manager in my workplace that is very difficult to deal with. I code sql for the business and he usually doesn’t understand what he needs enough to adequately make a request. My approach with that person is two-fold:
    Focus utterly on what is they are trying to ask for, ignoring the distraction of their difficult manner.
    Keep a shit-list of constructive criticism about their actions. It could make a handy reference if any conflict ever gets heated and while writing it, if you can’t come up with anything fair or constructive then you had nothing to complain about.

    • Sounds familiar. I work with 2x sales people who are self proclaimed ‘higher up’ than me, and I am a graphic designer. The amount of unfinished work I have is staggering, not because I am lazy or bad at my job, but because my 2 sales friends can never make up their minds. They start acting like professional graphic designers themselves even though they have no clue at what the frig they are doing. I try to give them some graphic insight, but what THEY want, they MUST HAVE! no questions asked.
      Even if it means by their request I have to move the whole MOON!

      My tip: Just go in to work with the mind-set that this is what you are going to face every day. In the end, if something turns out shit because someone else wanted it that way, then SO BE IT. Don’t put it in your portfolio, leave that to the good stuff you make/achieve. And if it does come back to bite you in the behind, then you can always say that you designed it to specification.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!