Being at work can be stressful, especially when you’re dealing with difficult people.

But don’t panic: We’ve compiled a list of responses that will help you deal with difficult people in the workplace. And if all else fails, don’t forget to take a deep breath, count to 10—or 100—and walk away if things are getting heated.

To start, a key foundational element to having successful outcomes to difficult conversations is Active Listening. This is a powerful tool for effective communication, which involves hearing what the other person is saying and fully understanding their message and perspective.

Here are five steps to Active Listening:

Businesswoman speaking to a client at business office meeting.

Give your full attention: The first step to active Listening is to give your full attention to the person speaking. This means putting away any distractions, such as your phone or computer, and focusing your attention solely on the person and their message.

Listen without judgment: It’s important to listen to the other person’s message without making any judgments or assumptions about their message. This means avoiding interrupting them or forming your response while they are speaking.

Show empathy: Active Listening involves not just hearing what the other person is saying but also understanding their perspective and feelings. Showing empathy can help to build trust and rapport with the other person and help them to feel heard and understood.

Ask clarifying questions: To ensure that you have fully understood the other person’s message, it’s important to ask clarifying questions. This involves asking open-ended questions that allow the person to elaborate on their message and clarify any unclear points.

Reflect on the message: After the person has finished speaking, take some time to reflect on their message and consider their perspective. This can involve paraphrasing their message to ensure that you have understood it correctly and considering their message in the context of the larger conversation or situation.

The 10 Best Responses When Dealing with a Difficult Person

“I understand your concerns, but let’s focus on finding a solution rather than dwelling on the problem.”

When dealing with a difficult person, it’s easy to get caught up in their drama and forget about your own needs. It’s important that you stay focused on yourself and what you need in order to be happy. You can do this by reminding yourself of what matters most: the problem itself won’t go away until it’s solved, so focus on finding solutions instead of dwelling on the problem itself.

If this person is bringing up issues from the past or making excuses for why they haven’t done anything yet, try shifting the conversation forward by asking questions like “What can we do now?” or “What would make things better for everyone involved?”

“I appreciate your feedback, but let’s make sure to keep the conversation respectful and productive.”

HR manger listening to employee.

Here’s a good way to respond:

Be respectful of the other person’s feelings. You may not agree with them, but they are entitled to their opinions just like you are. If you can’t say something nice about someone else’s idea or opinion, don’t say anything at all!

Be constructive in your feedback. Instead of saying things like “That doesn’t make sense” or “Why would anyone think this was a good idea?” try phrasing things differently, such as “I think we should test out this new strategy before committing fully.” This makes it clear that while you don’t agree with their idea, there could still be some value in trying out the proposed approach and then seeing what happens before making any decisions based on those results alone.* Use “I” statements instead of blaming statements like: “You always…”; instead, say something like “In my experience…”

“Let’s take a step back and review the facts before making any hasty decisions.”

If you find yourself in a situation where you have to deal with a difficult person, here are some key tips that will help you get through it without losing your cool.

  • Take a step back and review the facts before making any hasty decisions.
  • Stay calm and collected while speaking with them.
  • Remain objective and rational when dealing with them; don’t let emotions cloud your judgment or prevent you from seeing things clearly.
  • Be respectful of their position as well as yours (even if they aren’t respectful) by being professional at all times.

“I understand that we have different perspectives, but let’s work together to find common ground.”

When you’re dealing with a difficult person, it’s important to find common ground. In this case, “common ground” means listening to their perspective and respecting it as valid (even if you don’t agree).

It’s also crucial that you listen carefully when they are talking about their perspective–you don’t want to appear dismissive or hostile by interrupting them or cutting them off mid-sentence.

If you can listen carefully, you’ll quickly get a better idea of what they’re thinking and feeling. This is important because it allows you to begin to see things from their perspective–and this will help them feel heard and respected.

The next step is to acknowledge and validate their feelings. Let them know that you understand what they’re going through and that it’s not easy for them. Then ask them some questions: “What can I do to help?” or “How can I support you through this?”

“I value your input, but let’s make sure to stay focused on the issue at hand.”

  • Be clear about the issue at hand.
  • Don’t get distracted by side issues or tangents.
  • Don’t let the conversation slip into a debate about who is right and who is wrong, which can lead to further arguments and hurt feelings. Instead, stay focused on what you want to achieve in this meeting: solving whatever problem you’re working on together–and moving forward with your work!
  • Try to get the other person to see things from your point of view. If you’re talking with someone who is upset, ask questions that can help him or her calm
  • down and think through what happened. For example: “I know it’s frustrating when something like this happens.”

“Let’s approach this situation with a calm and objective mindset rather than letting emotions cloud our judgment.”

In a situation where you’re dealing with a difficult person, it’s important to stay calm. If you lose your cool and get too emotional, it will make things worse.

Here are some examples of how emotions can cloud judgment:

You might be tempted to tell the other person how they made you feel or why their actions were wrong based on your beliefs instead of focusing on solving the problem at hand. This is just an excuse for them not to listen because they want someone else at fault instead of themselves or their behavior being flawed in some way (which often happens). It also makes them feel attacked and less likely to cooperate or change their behavior because now they have something else that makes them defensive besides just having been called out on their bad attitude/actions!

Similarly, we may become overly defensive ourselves when confronted by someone who has behaved badly toward us–especially if there was no provocation from our end whatsoever! In these cases, we might find ourselves saying things like “Don’t blame me for this!” or “That wasn’t my fault!” when really all we need do is calmly explain what happened without getting defensive ourselves so as not to upset anyone further than necessary…

“I hear what you’re saying, but let’s keep our communication professional and constructive.”

When you’re dealing with a difficult person, it’s important to remember that the key to success is respectful, constructive communication. You don’t want to get personal or take things personally. You also don’t want to let your emotions cloud your judgment or make you defensive in response to their actions and words.
It can be tempting for people who feel attacked by others’ behaviors or comments–especially if those others are rude or aggressive–to lash out themselves; however, this rarely results in positive outcomes for either party involved in the interaction (or any bystanders).

“Let’s work together to find a solution that benefits everyone involved.”

When dealing with a difficult person, it’s important to stay focused on the problem at hand and not get distracted by their behavior. You may want to ask yourself some questions:

  • What is the root cause of this issue?
  • What are my goals for resolving this situation?
  • How can I best help both myself and others involved in this situation achieve those goals?

“I understand your frustrations because I’ve been there myself. Let me tell you how I handled it so that you can learn from my experience!”

When someone is angry with you, it can be difficult to know how to respond. Here are some tips for handling these situations:
Stay calm and listen carefully. It’s important not to get defensive or avoid the conversation; instead, try listening closely as the other person vents their frustrations. This will help them feel heard and respected by you–and it will also give them time to cool off so that they can think more clearly about what happened in order for both of you (or all three) people involved in this conversation to have a clearer understanding of what went wrong between all parties involved.* Be open-minded about hearing their point of view even if it seems like something completely different than your own opinion on things!


Remembering these responses will help you deal with difficult people. The key is to remember that it’s not about winning or losing–it’s about finding common ground and working together toward a solution. So keep calm, stay positive and keep the conversation going!

Stay calm. No matter how frustrated or angry you may feel, it’s important to stay in control of your emotions. When dealing with a difficult person, it can be easy to get caught up in their behavior and lose perspective on what’s really important–the problem at hand. If you become emotional yourself, chances are good that things will escalate quickly and lead to an argument or, even worse yet: no resolution at all!

Don’t take it personally. Difficult people often view themselves as victims who are being treated unfairly by others (including you). While this isn’t always true (and sometimes there are legitimate reasons why someone might be difficult), don’t let yourself fall into this trap by blaming yourself for every little thing that goes wrong during an interaction with them because chances are good that whatever happened wasn’t actually your fault anyway!

Don’t get defensive. Focus instead on helping find solutions rather than blaming other people who may have contributed factors into making things worse than they could’ve been otherwise but aren’t necessarily responsible for everything going wrong today either.”