How To Communicate With Difficult People

“I am grateful for all the difficult people in my life. They have shown me exactly who I do not want to be.”


There’s a person I dread speaking to. Before I call,  I take deep breaths. Predict the responses. Be ready for the “retort.”  Anticipate the conflict. You have that person in your life too. Right? The one where every conversation is a challenge or a confrontation. Instead of communication, it feels like navigation, walking on eggshells or tip toeing through a minefield.It is one thing to be a great communicator yourself. It is quite another to  learn how to communicate with those who aren’t.


We all have difficult people in our lives and communication with them can be especially hard. Sometimes these people are strangers. And sometimes they are our friends or family. Barbara Markway PhD, gives us 20 Expert Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People.

Her first 5 tips are my go-to’s.  Click this link to read the remaining 15.

  1. Listen– Listening is key when trying to de-escalate a situation quickly.
  2. Stay Calm– Often meeting anger with anger, or coming back defensive with a difficult person, will likely make the situation worse.
  3. Don’t Judge–Sometimes a person reacts with anger or is unreasonable when they are going through something and don’t know how to express it.
  4. Reflect respect and dignity toward the other person– Belittling or speaking down to the difficult person, will not solve any issues quicker.
  5. Look for the hidden need– Are you able to figure out what they are really so upset about?