Everyone at some point in their life has encountered a difficult person. I recently received a threatening email from a colleague. I had heard stories of this person bullying other staff members. I had found her to be brusque but this was my first seriously negative encounter with her.

It has left me feeling hurt, upset and powerless and I am not sure how to respond.

The person is clearly in the wrong but I am afraid that no matter how I respond it will add more fuel on the fire and only make the situation worse and make it more difficult to work with her. So far I have chosen to avoid the situation by ignoring it, however I am left with lingering anxiety. The stress is causing me to have difficulties sleeping. Last night I had a nightmare and woke with my heart racing with a feeling of panic. I feel stressed and on edge unable to know what the best way to deal with the situation is.

To manage my emotions, I try to remind myself it is not about me. I have done nothing wrong. I don’t deserve to be treated this way. I remind myself that this person is having issues with others as well. I try to figure out why this person is behaving this way. Maybe she is stressed about something else in her life or is she just a crazy control freak with a need to dominate and put people down.

Some people are just impossible to please and what ever you do you can not win.

I have just read the book “How to Deal with Difficult People” by Gill Hasson. Hasson suggest that you need to send a clear signal that you are strong and capable “as anything less is an invitation to further attacks”. However Hasson also warns that you can exacerbate the situation and if someone is angry than the anger has overtaken the rational and reasonable part of their mind.

I am scared as I know there is no reasoning with this person.

Hasson had a chapter about dealing with impossible people and I am afraid that this is what I am dealing with. Most people when they feel someone is upset will feel empathy for them but bullies and narcissists don’t care about your feelings. Hanson says that bullies are compulsive in their behaviour and her answer is to stay away from the impossible person.

Hanson writes “The only way to deal with an impossible person is to remove yourself from them: to let them go and walk away.”

Walking away is what I would like to do but it is easier said than done when you are working with someone who is impossibly difficult would mean leaving a job you love.


Photo Photo by  DR. Edith Öller

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