Well here it is, what you’ve been waiting for all week, my definitive advice on what to do with difficult people. Are you ready?

Nothing. That’s right, nothing. Difficult people are that way as a result of some combination of low emotional intelligence and poor interpersonal skills. On Howard Gardner’s list of 8 types of intelligence, they lack Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Intelligence.

Unfortunately, difficult people have learned this type of behaviour somewhere. Changing your own behaviour is difficult, very difficult and changing other people’s behaviour is almost impossible. Think about how hard it is to quit smoking, quit drinking, exercise regularly, or stop eating crap. Now think about how you may have tried to get someone else to change theses things. Tough eh?

So no amount of whatever advice you read on the net will work. Telling people you don’t like their behaviour, walking out, coaching them, these all will fail. You have a chance if you’re their boss but it will take constant effort over a very long time to change their behaviour.

Since there is nothing you can do to change their behaviour, what is left? Avoid them, ignore them, limit exposure to them, don’t let them invalidate you, and don’t let them affect your own well being.

Just look at difficult people the same way you do the parking ticket you got, the rotten apple you just bit into, or the pile of dog shit you just stepped in. This too shall pass.