How to Handle Difficult People: Tips for Keeping Your Cool

2 min readMar 29, 2024

Encounters with difficult people are part and parcel of life’s journey. Whether it’s a colleague at work or a family member at home, dealing with challenging individuals can be tough. Fortunately, Dr. Irene Strauss Cohan, a psychologist and professor, has some helpful advice on how to navigate these tricky situations. Let’s break down her tips into simple steps for handling difficult people while staying calm and composed.

Photo by Felix Rostig on Unsplash

Understanding Difficult People

According to Dr. Strauss, difficult people are often struggling with their own issues. They may act unpleasant or hurtful because they’re feeling that way inside. It’s essential to realize that they might not be ready to accept kindness, even if it’s offered sincerely.

Being Kind and Accepting

When faced with a difficult person, especially if they’re a family member or someone you live with, it’s important to stay calm and understanding. Dr. Strauss suggests trying to see things from their perspective and accepting them for who they are. By showing kindness and not expecting them to change, you can make interactions smoother.

Knowing Yourself and Setting Boundaries

Alongside understanding the difficult person, it’s crucial to know your own triggers and behaviors. Recognize that you’re not responsible for making others happy, especially within your family. Setting boundaries and not feeling the need to fix everything can help reduce stress and tension.

Taking Care of Yourself

Amidst dealing with challenging people, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Dr. Strauss emphasizes that it’s okay not to be positive all the time. Acknowledging tough situations and taking steps to deal with them can help you stay balanced.

Building Resilience

Dr. Strauss encourages seeing difficult situations as opportunities for growth. While setbacks may be discouraging, viewing them as temporary hurdles can help you bounce back stronger. By staying resilient and adapting to challenges, you can maintain your peace of mind.




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