7 Rules for Dealing With Difficult People post image

7 Rules for Dealing With Difficult People

A few things are inevitable in life: death, taxes…. and dealing with difficult people. From work to friendships to romantic relationships, difficult interactions can hit us from all angles and can take a heavy toll on us.

A few days ago, I was doing some much needed reorganizing and I found this packet from a class I think I took many moons ago. I can’t remember who taught it, but the packet was filled with amazing and hilarious “rules” for dealing with difficult people.

Within these humorous insights are pearls of wisdom that can help you keep your cool during an argument or any other trying exchange.

I really wish I could give you the source, but no names were written on the sheet so all I have is the information. I couldn’t keep it all to myself though, so here are some amazing (and I’d even say life-changing) rules for dealing with difficult people:

The 24 Hour Rule:
It is imperative to wait 24 hours before reacting when we feel angry. This is because:
– natural consequences will take care of the problem
– you can calm down and come up with a different perspective
– the issue is no longer important

The Elephant Rule:
Picture that a huge, fat elephant is coming your way. What do you do? You move away and let the elephant go by. The same is true when someone negative, angry or bitter is coming your way. Instead of getting in his way, just move and let him go by. Don’t provoke or try to argue with him because he might stamp you.

The Madhouse Rule:
While walking, you see a sign on a building that says “Madhouse” and for some reason you hear a man shouting from one of the windows saying: “HEY!! You man, are so crazy!”

Do you really believe him? Do you take it personally? Do you let it bother your? Or do you ignore him and think: “Poor guy, he is locked in the madhouse and yet he thinks that I’m the crazy one.”

You might find it humorous or might even feel compassion, right?

Well, you could have the same attitude towards other people, especially with strangers, people that hardly know you, or people in the street. For examples: why bother to react when another driver insults you? Or when a coworker is trying to push your buttons and you know it? This would be a good rule to apply.

The Hospital Rule:
Imagine a very sick person that is lying on a  hospital bed, hooked up with so many tubes that it’s almost impossible for him to move. You are sitting on the other side of the room feeling very thirsty. You notice that there is a glass of water right next to the sick person.

What do you do? Do you ask him to pass you the glass? After all it is just a small glass, no big deal, right? It is obvious that you would not bother him; you know better than that because he’s so sick! You don’t expect him to pass the glass to you and you don’t get angry or take it personally.

And that is exactly what you should do when you are with people that cannot understand what you need, or are incapable of doing, saying, or giving what you would want. It is much better if you do not ask them, and do not expect them to do something for you.

You will definitely live better and you will have less stress in your life.

The Blind Man Rule:
Have you realized what happens when you see a blind person alone trying to cross the street or standing in the middle of a crowded place? Somehow, you feel that you are blessed because you have your sight to see and guide you. You can see where you are going and what to avoid. If you see that this person needs help you would probably approach him and offer your assistance, right? You would not hesitate to help if you were needed.

Well, in life sometimes we meet people that come across as difficult but underneath the surface, they are really blind even if they have sight. Yes, there are people who have limitations, a disadvantage, who have been hurt emotionally, who feel lost or damaged. If we could only understand them and feel compassionate, we would then try to help them instead of being hostile.

Probably, and without looking for it, we would get more than what we gave. Not to mention that in this way, we improve the relationship, sweeten someone’s life and improve the flavor of our life.

The President Rule:
Who holds the most important position in the government?
“The President”
Who is the person that has the highest position in a corporation or firm?
“The President or the CEO”

How do we treat people that are in these high positions?

We treat them with extra consideration. We try hard to be polite and to be extremely careful with everything we say or do. Otherwise we could get into trouble. Therefore, we don’t make fun of them, we treat them with respect, we try to be helpful, we address them with a good tone of voice, gentle words, and do our best to be on their good side. In other words, we behave our best.

The Bee Rule:
Sometimes, whether we like it or not, there are people that try hard to provoke us. No matter what we do there are overbearing, like a bee buzzing around out heads. And when a bee stings, it really hurts. With these people it is easy to lose control and react in a negative way.

What do we do then?

The key here is… (continued – Click to keep reading 7 Rules for Dealing With Difficult People)

Written by Sabrina Alexis

I’m Sabrina Alexis, the co-founder, and co-editor of A New Mode. I love writing relatable, insightful articles that help people understand relationship dynamics and how to get the love they want. I have a degree in psychology and have spent the last 10 years interviewing countless men and reading and studying as much as I can to better understand human psychology and how men operate. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram.

19 comments… add one

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Zama Good

advice me on how to deal with difficult situations on regular basis

Reply March 3, 2017, 12:35 pm

mikaela jovanji

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Reply February 21, 2016, 5:29 am


Pretty good rules, I think. I’ve done pretty well in business for a long time with just two:
– Treat everyone with dignity and respect and expect their reciprocity.
– If someone refuses to do so, get away from them asap or they’ll grind you down.

Reply March 2, 2013, 11:25 pm

The False God

The world is full of three things: things that are your responsibility, things that can be made your responsibility by your stupid butting in or malice, and everything else.

To the first thing: live, love, drink, and handle it.
To the second thing: know what you could be getting into, and avoid being made the fall guy.
To the third thing: if it’s someone else’s f—ing fault, then leave them to their impending buffet of crow.

Reply March 2, 2013, 11:23 am


A few years ago, upon graduating from a course “How to Deal with Difficult People,” no doubt based on these principles, a friend of mine shared that the only thing she learned was that she was a difficult person!

Reply March 2, 2013, 7:00 am


I highly recommend the book “Dealing with difficult people” by Dr Rick Brinkman and Dr Rick Kirschner. I re-read it once every couple of years, it is funny, insightful, and very helpful in dealing with the difficult personality types we deal with every day. I also bought a copy for my boss.
From one of the comments
“. I have had my fill of books which tell me to “be nice” or “work towards a compromise”. My response is, I know that, but how do I DO that? How do I keep the other person from popping off at me? THIS BOOK does that. It’s simple – exactly right for line managers with DAY to DAY conflicts.”

Reply March 1, 2013, 7:01 pm

Man in the Middle

“Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”
-Napoleon Bonaparte

Reply March 1, 2013, 5:50 pm


Try being a Ph.D. online global warming skeptic, trying to post simple data to news sites and blogs if you ever want to practice dealing with “difficult” people! The madness of crowds effect kicks in like I’m an unlucky truck driver in a riot.

Reply March 1, 2013, 4:59 pm


How to deal with difficult people? Use the Rat (from Pearls Before Swine) approach. Whack ’em on the head when they get difficult. Figuratively hit them on the nose hard enough every time they act up. Eventually they get tire of their nose hurting and either stop being difficult or leave you alone and go find someone else that is more tolerant and less judgemental about their difficultness to be difficult with. It is the solution to the classic prisoners’ dilemma game.

Best benefit — no ulcer from putting up with them.

The real golden rule is treat others like you want to be treated, and then treat them the way they treat you.

Reply March 1, 2013, 4:17 pm

Mntn Man

All true. Those difficult people that I am not called to help I ease out of my life. They are almost always the takers who just want to suck the life out of me and don’t want to change.

Reply March 1, 2013, 4:16 pm


I whole heartedly agree with the first commenter. Difficult, rude, authoritarian, and incompetent people need to be resisted. The “President’s Rule?” If their joke isn’t funny, don’t laugh. Inappropriate deference isn’t becoming to an honorable human being. Silence may be appropriate, but insincerity isn’t; ever.

The rules are for avoiding conflict regardless of right or wrong will stratify society into the aggressors and those who skitter around in fear for the whole of their existence.

Tit for tat is the way to go – if someone is decent and pleasant then justice calls for us to treat them similarly. On the other hand, if someone is a jerk, why then let us respond in kind. It’s justice and we’re all moral agents charged with implementing on a day to day basis. We deserve and get the world we create through our social interactions. Karma Baby!

Reply March 1, 2013, 4:00 pm


” It’s justice and we’re all moral agents charged with implementing on a day to day basis.”

I’m not a moral agent and I have yet to be charged with anything

Reply March 1, 2013, 7:07 pm


Wow, so basically be cede the alpha role to every a-hole in your life. Nice recipe for putting lunatics in positions of power. Sabrina Alexis, you’re officially part of the problem.

Reply March 1, 2013, 3:44 pm


Without wanting to be the elephant in the room but the list assumes that Ego is not the difficult person. Is there an option for considering that maybe, just maybe, we might be the problem?

While such a consideration might not be ‘reinforcing’ it remains that questioning oneself is a worthwhile exercise.



Reply March 1, 2013, 3:26 pm


great suggestions … for remaining passive and allowing the other person to dominate the situation …

bullies around the world depend on people following this sort of advice everyday …

but thank god you won’t ever be judgemental …

Reply March 1, 2013, 3:03 pm


Within these humorous insights are perils of wisdom that can help you”…

“Perils of Wisdom” is the name of a book series by Bill Halligan, and would also make a nice movie or band name. However, I suspect you meant “pearls of wisdom”.

Reply March 1, 2013, 2:50 pm


Don’t forget the “Golden Rule”
“He who has the gold makes the rules”

Reply March 1, 2013, 2:32 pm


These are great! Thanks for sharing!

Reply February 24, 2013, 6:30 am

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