We all have to deal with difficult people sooner or later. In the case that the person is a family member or coworker, this is a frequent ordeal. If the difficult person is a friend or acquaintance, then you have an option to cut ties altogether. If you don’t have any difficult people in your life, then either you are an anomaly or you are already practicing some of the behaviors outlined in this article.

We all would rather surround ourselves with positive people. People that encourage us and motivate us to be a better person. But occasionally, we find ourselves one on one with the antithesis of positivity, who may go by the nickname of Negative Nancy or Dougie Downer.  We can experience feelings of stress, anger or just feel trapped in their world of negativity.

So, how should one handle these situations and deal with the difficult person? Here are some tips:

Weed the Garden of Your Life

We mostly have a choice on if we have to deal with them at all. When it’s a family member or coworker, this can seem more difficult because we feel an obligation to “get along.” But, evaluate if that person adds any value to your life and if they don’t add any value or they add minimal value, weed them out. Remove them from your life. You don’t owe them anything and you’re better off without their presence. This may seem insensitive but you can still love them from a greater distance.

Identify or create a backstory for them

Everyone has struggles in their life. Our past struggles and negative experiences can formulate an outward projection that may not reflect who we truly are. If you try and understand why the difficult person is the way they are, it can remove a lot of the emotion from an encounter. When we show empathy, it deflates any feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you know their history in a case such as a family member, you may already know their backstory that explains their negative behavior. If you don’t know their history, you can make up one and it accomplishes the same. Accept that they are who they are for a reason and it can make any interactions more tolerable.

Identify their good traits

Everyone has worth so list out what you like best about the difficult person. Focusing on their positive traits reminds us they have value and we can be more confident when they are present. If you can communicate what you like most about them, it will increase their self-esteem. Low self-esteem is often a trait of a difficult person so give them a boost. There is less of a chance for confrontation or exhibiting negative emotions.

People are people and the variety of positive and negative attitudes is as plentiful as wild flowers on the roadside. You get to choose who you spend your precious time with so don’t waste your time with those that don’t add value to your life. For difficult ones we have to endure, empathy and spotting their good traits help reduce the stress and anxiety we feel when interacting with the Negative Nancy or Dougie Downer in your life.

About the Author: Author, speaker, and entrepreneur Brian Highfield inspires others how to live their own life of fulfillment in his book Bazooka Proof: Create a Foundation of Fulfillment So Your Happiness Can Thrive (Morgan James Publishing). In addition to speaking regularly at seminars, he shares principles on the topics of happiness, health, finances, and personal growth on his website, TheBeardedPhilosopher.com.