7 part series: How to Deal With Difficult People ~2/7

How to Deal With Difficult People

Impossible to Possible

Part 2 of 7

In this 7 part series, we are taking a look at a complaint I hear a lot about from clients and friends: obstinate, difficult and negative people.  Perhaps you know it as stubborn, headstrong, adamant, stiff-necked, relentless, tough, bullheaded, pigheaded, determined, or ornery. Regardless of the descriptor, it all means the same thing for you; impossible, frustrating and exhausting.


In this 7 part series, you are learning:

  • 10 common reasons people can be so difficult (part 1)
  • Practical strategies to turn the impossible to POSSIBLE (part 2)
  • 3 ways to strengthen your relationship
  • How man’s best friend can also be man’s savior
  • 3 ways to save your blood pressure and sanity
  • How your car could save your relationship
  • 5 things to know before you go
  • The ONE thing that makes all the difference


Practical strategies to turn the impossible to POSSIBLE

Being around negative and difficult people can be taxing for all involved. I want to emphasize that in a work setting where you are the manager, you must address negative and destructive behavior. Ignoring this behavior will result in employee disengagement, reduced productivity and affect your bottom line.

For everyone else, here are some strategies to turn the impossible to possible.



1.  “Kill ‘em with kindness and ignore bad behavior.

    • Acknowledging them in only positive ways and ignoring negative words and acts shows difficult people they get attention with good; not bad. People want acknowledgement. If they can’t get it by doing something positive, they will resort to bad behavior to get attention.  Children are a perfect example of this. If they don’t get positive attention, they will take what they can get! Examples of this are everywhere. Being kind despite their negativity will shock them and they’ll realize bad attitudes are ignored.


    • Here’s another way to look at it. If you are telling your story (let’s assume it’s a drama filled sad story) to people and suddenly everyone ignores you, eventually you will become detached from your story and stop telling it. It’s also important to acknowledge them when they are going in the right direction.  Positive reinforcement can be a huge motivator.


2.  Make their favorite meal or plan an activity around their favorite thing to do.

To the extent appropriate, taking them out or making their favorite meal and/or planning activities around their favorite thing to do can’t help but put a smile on their face. What’s that saying, the way to a man’s/woman’s heart is through their stomach? 

3.  Share stories to invoke gratitude – talk about good times. 

One way to stop negativity in its tracks is to change topics or share positive stories. Another powerful way to negate destructive behavior is to tell the person why you are grateful for them and how important they are to you.

4. Help them feel needed.

I’ve learned that if you give someone something to do that helps them feel needed, their mood shifts (most of the time.)  When my dad lost control over just about everything after a horrific accident, he sat listlessly as if he were waiting to die. During periods where he could do things, I gave him small things to do like folding small towels. Even the little things can help a difficult person feel needed. Feeling needed helps them feel better about themselves and those around them.

YOUR TURN:Which of these tips resonates with you the most? What else can you add to this list? Please comment below!


If you missed part 1 of this series, click here.



Next up: 3 ways to strengthen your relationship.

Dedicated to YOUR success,



Tandy Elisala Bio Pic

Tandy Elisala, MA, CPSC, ACT, CHt, TFT-fAlg, is founder and CEO of Center for Inspiring Greatness.™  Tandy is a Care Giving Expert, Certified Professional Success Coach, Author and Consultant. She is certified in various alternative-healing modalities. Tandy has 25 years’ proven experience as a corporate executive, speaker and coach.  Tandy was a full-time caregiver for both parents simultaneously while kicking cancer’s butt a third time and raising three children as a single parent. Tandy lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her three kids, two dogs, and three cats. Tandy’s book, Healing Through the Chaos: Practical Care-Giving is available for pre-order at http://www.tandyelisala.com.

© Copyright 2013, Tandy Elisala, http://www.centerforinspiringgreatness.com and http://www.tandyelisala.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline and bio, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Tandy at tandy@tandyelisala.com.


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Tandy Elisala

Family Caregiver Coach, Cancer Empowerment Advocate and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness | Empowered Family Caregiver
Tandy Elisala is passionate about helping family caregivers go from being overwhelmed and stressed to empowered and calm. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. Tandy left her corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously while raising three kids as a single mom. She took care of both parents for 2 1/2 years until their respective deaths. Tandy now teaches what she learned on her journey. Tandy is a family caregiver coach, a multiple best-selling author, inspirational speaker and mom to three adult kids, one angel dog and one diva cat.

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4 replies
    • TandyMain
      TandyMain says:

      Hi Suzanna, indeed. You hit a sensitive button here. It definitely requires much strength to implement strategies to effectively deal with difficult people. I love the counting to ten method! Another one of my favorites is to take five deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. That alone is good but there’s another element I include with deep breathing. I imagine all things peaceful and positive on the in-breath and all stress, negativity, worry leaving my body on the out-breath. Have you ever tried this calming strategy?


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