10 simple ways to stop being a difficult person

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Have you ever been told that you’re a difficult person to be around? Maybe a colleague has hinted that you’re difficult in the workplace? 

If so, I can imagine it was quite hurtful to hear. After all, it’s never nice to receive negative feedback about your personality! 

But the good news is, this is something that can easily be overcome. In this article, I’m going to guide you through 10 simple ways to stop being a difficult person (and start being someone enjoyable to be around!).

Let’s get straight into it:

1) Learn to go with the flow

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – one of the easiest ways to stop being a difficult person is by learning to go with the flow. In other words, being open-minded and up for trying new things.

If you can master this, a lot of the points below will also be easier to adopt! 

The truth is, being regimented or closed-minded can make other people feel tense around you. If a date or meet-up isn’t going to plan, digging your heels in or getting huffy doesn’t help the situation.

But if you’re able to adapt and go with the flow, your friends and family will feel much more comfortable in your company, and certainly less apprehensive when plans change!  

2) Look for solutions, not problems 

Very much related to the point above, to go with the flow, you’ve got to focus more on finding solutions than complaining about problems.  

Let me give you an example:

A close family friend of mine always looks for the negatives. If we’ve got plans and the car breaks down, she’ll be the first to get annoyed, declare the day over, and then moan about how cars aren’t built to last anymore. 

On the other hand, another close family friend would react completely differently. 

In the same scenario, she’d probably laugh it off, call out a mechanic and then treat everyone to cocktails after for the inconvenience! 

She knows that life is 80% out of our control, all we can really do is control how we react to situations, and being solution-focused gets us back on the right track much faster than focusing on the negatives! 

3) Practice active listening 

Next up on simple ways to stop being a difficult person, I’d highly recommend practicing active listening

This is extremely useful as most conflict arises from misunderstanding – by practicing active listening you’ll strengthen the bonds you share with others!

So, how can you put this into practice?

  • Maintain eye contact when someone speaks to you
  • Avoid checking your phone or looking at the TV
  • Don’t interrupt them
  • Don’t plan what your response will be while they’re still talking
  • Listen without jumping to conclusions, judging, or trying to enforce your opinion 
  • Ask questions to make sure you’ve fully understood what they’re saying

Now, I know that might sound like a lot, but honestly, it’s a game-changer. Once you start doing this regularly it’ll become like second nature (I know from first-hand experience). 

People will automatically find you easier to be around because they’ll feel seen and heard by you! 

4) Avoid criticizing or judging others 

We touched on avoiding passing judgment when listening to other people, but the truth is, avoid doing this in general!

The same goes for criticizing. 

The thing is, if you go around dishing out your opinions when they’re unwanted, people will most definitely find you difficult to be around. No one likes it, no matter how well-meaning your intentions might be. 

Instead, wait until someone solicits your opinion, and try to keep an open mind before judging their situation or saying something that might unnecessarily hurt them. 

And on that note, it’s important to…

5) Show empathy 

Empathy is when you put yourself into the shoes of someone else to truly understand how they’re feeling. 

Without it, it’s very hard to forge genuine connections with people – it can also make you come across as a difficult person, especially when someone is down in the dumps and you’re unable to comfort them! 

But I get it, empathy doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so if it doesn’t for you either, try this the next time someone comes to you with a problem or grievance: 

  • Get good at listening (refer back to point 3)
  • Withhold passing judgment on their situation (see point above)
  • Try to imagine how it would feel to be in their situation
  • Push yourself to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things, new people, and new environments (this all helps with seeing and understanding how other people live)
  • Validate people’s feelings and be a shoulder to cry on if needed 

Most importantly, recognize that everyone handles their emotions differently. You can’t expect everyone to be the same as you, so a little understanding and empathy can go a long way in making you a valued person to have around!

6) Learn to manage your emotions 

So, we’ve spoken about other people’s emotions, but what about your own?

If you want to stop being a difficult person, it’s essential that you start getting to know yourself better.

Learn what your triggers are – sit with your feelings – and explore how you react to certain situations. 

By being in control of your emotions, you’ll be less likely to lash out at others or make them the subject of your bad moods. 

I also recommend you research emotional intelligence…

Emotional intelligence is understanding your own emotions but also those of the people around you. 

Without it, you’ll miss out on forming deep connections with others, practicing empathy, and a whole load of other useful skills! 

7) Learn when to let it go 

Now, moving on to the next simple way to stop being a difficult person:

Know when to let it go!

This goes hand in hand with learning to go with the flow. Sometimes, things won’t work out, you might disagree with someone’s opinion, or a situation will remain unresolved.

Being stubborn and refusing to move on will not win you any favors. Nor will it make people want to spend time with you. 

One phrase which I remind myself of when I feel like being a stickler and fighting my point out of pettiness is this:

Would you rather be happy, or would you rather be right?

Nine times out of 10, I end up choosing to be happy because let’s face it, even if you are right, will it matter in a few days? Will you remember it next year, or in five years?

Probably not – so learn to let it go for everyone’s (including your own) sake! 

8) Practice humility 

But to achieve the previous point, you need to practice humility. 

Why is this so important when trying to not be a difficult person?

  • You’ll begin to recognize that you also have flaws, which will make you less judgemental of others 
  • You’ll get better at being empathetic 
  • It’ll increase self-awareness (which will result in better emotional intelligence)
  • You’ll receive feedback with a more open mind (helping you grow and improve)

But most importantly, people with humility are a joy to be around. They know their limitations, and they don’t pretend to be superior to others. 

For a few tips on how to build humility, I recommend checking out this free guide

9) Get comfortable saying sorry 

And following on from my previous point regarding humility, if you want to stop being a difficult person I strongly suggest you get comfortable apologizing when you’re wrong!

Look, there’s nothing worse than someone who refuses to admit their mistakes. 

And I don’t mean to come down hard on you, but it’s very frustrating for the other people involved if you refuse to say sorry. It drags on bad feelings and stops the situation from getting resolved!

So, if you struggle with apologizing, my advice is actually to go back to points 5 (practicing empathy), 6 (managing your emotions), and 8 (practicing humility) as it’s a combination of all three that’ll help you! 

P.S. – saying sorry will never make you look weaker. If anything, it takes a strong, responsible, and mature person to admit when they’re wrong!

10) Respect people’s boundaries 

And finally, to stop being a difficult person, it’s important to respect other people’s boundaries. 

What do I mean by that?

Well, here’s a little example:

My aunt is someone most people would consider “difficult”. Whenever she comes to my house, she insists on rearranging things and telling me how to run my household. 

I’ve asked her numerous times, politely and more bluntly, to stop interfering in the layout and runnings of my house. 

She refuses to respect my boundaries, so I’ve resorted to not inviting her around anymore. That’s the consequence of not adhering to my boundaries. 

A considerate, easy-going person would get the message the first time around, and never cross the line again. 

That’s how you know they respect you! 

So, have a good think about the people in your life – do you respect their boundaries? Do you listen to them when they share their feelings about your behavior? 

I’m not saying you have to change yourself completely based on how others think or feel, but understanding them and meeting them halfway at least is the respectful and kind thing to do.

Not only will it make people want to be around you more, but it’s a surefire way to get out of the “difficult person” category! 

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a foodie, writer and traveler. She considers herself a citizen of the world, who gets her inspiration from the people she meets along her journeys. She's currently living in Spain, where she spends her time writing, watching the shepherds and eating tapas in the mountains of Andalucía.

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