Strategies to Handle Difficult People and Situations

By: Corporate Training Options, Australia

Learning the strategies to handle difficult people and situations, and resolve them to everyone’s satisfaction, is an important life skill.  

Manage difficult situations with CTO Training
Manage difficult situations with CTO Training

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion; creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.”

Dale Carnegie

At one time or another we’ve all experienced difficult people and situations.  It could have been with a customer, colleague, peer, partner or stranger. 

When you master the strategies to handle difficult people, it will help you to better manage your relationships, your career, your workplace, and your organisation.

These skills will help both you and your coworkers, as you learn to:

  • Listen effectively and develop your tolerance and problem-solving skills 
  • Understand what the upset person’s motives are for being difficult
  • Determine if the person complaining is being difficult at all
  • Develop empathy for their situation and understand where you fit into the problem
  • Learn how you can resolve difficult situations, so everyone benefits

In this article we’re sharing 5 Master Strategies to Handling Difficult People & Situations, to get you underway.

To discover more about the Handling Difficult People & Situations course from Corporate Training Options, you can view the course outline here.

5 Master Strategies to Handle Difficult People & Situations

Strategy 1: Understand that everyone is different

All of us are individuals.  We all have our own thoughts and actions and our own way of understanding and processing events.  Your team, your customers and everyone you come into contact with is a living, breathing human being, with different backgrounds, different upbringings and different life experiences. 

Dealing with difficult people and situations is about focusing on:

  1. Listening to people to determine if a real problem does exist 
  2. Processing what people are saying to you
  3. Understanding what meaning and energy you give that person, the situation and what they have told you
  4. Discovering what type of personality that person has
  5. Acknowledging what type of person you are
  6. Looking deeper, so you can appreciate people’s body language, speech, attitude and other behaviours. 
  7. Deciding what action you will take

The moment you start listening, and understanding the different motivations and personality types of people around you, combined with the meaning you give it, is the moment you can begin to understand difficult people and resolve difficult situations. 

Strategy 2: Look inwards, to learn if you contribute to difficult situations

We all need to understand that we cannot control other people’s thoughts and actions, just as they cannot control ours. 

Some people get agitated quickly and easily, and some do not get agitated at all, no matter what unpleasantness may come their way.

So it’s time for a self-analysis check! 

Start by identifying where you can improve. Perhaps you’re too quick to judge, or maybe you have trouble communicating to others – often coming off as rude. 

Other times you may be just having a bad day, which makes it easy to take it out on someone else. It doesn’t make it right, but it’s  a reality.

By doing a self-analysis, you’ll be able to identify traits and characteristics about yourself that you can improve on, if you decide you need to.  And by identifying areas that need improvement in your attitude, persona and character, you’re already halfway there in developing and putting new practices into action. 

Another way you can do a self-analysis check is – every time you have a demanding customer or situation, once it is over, score yourself out of ten about what you did well and in which areas you could have done better.

Strategy 3: Listen & Assess – what are the needs of the other person?

We all know it is much easier to retreat from unwanted conversations and conflict.  However, it’s important to stand your ground, be polite, and listen, listen, listen. 

Think: What does this person want or need, and what are they actually upset about?

Manage difficult conversations, with CTO Training

For example, if you have a difficult customer complaint, try to empathise with them, identify their main problem, take your time, and listen. 

Master strategy Three to Handling Difficult People & Situations is to always focus on listening. There’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth. 

Practice training your mind, attitude and speech to be ‘judgment-free’, so when people are upset, you’re cool, calm, collected and helpful.

In many cases, much of the conflict a customer or person may have towards you, isn’t directed or about you at all. The person who is upset may be just having a bad day, or have other problems in life, and you’re the unlucky one they decide to take it out on.

Strategy 4: Use the right words, voice and attitude to calm people and resolve the situation.

We all under-estimate the power of words and how we use them. When flung into situations and disagreements it’s easy to get caught off guard and respond in an angry and impolite manner. But remember – You’re bigger than that. 

We’ve all heard the saying ‘You get more with a smile than you do with a frown.’ 

When you need strategies to handle difficult people or situations, this is one you should apply. First, analyse the complaint, the person and the situation. Then, before responding, choose your words carefully, using a soft courteous voice, and a calm and helpful attitude and manner.  You’re guaranteed to find a positive result for everyone involved. 

By thinking clearly and choosing your words carefully, you’re less likely to crack under pressure, become negatively influenced or leave serious issues unaddressed altogether. 

Strategy 5: Think in terms of solutions and service, not problems

You and your mind are powerful beyond measure.  What you think about, you bring about. Your mind can take you to the depths of despair, or to heights of success you’ve only imagined. It all depends on how you use it.

Resolving difficult situations is all about focusing on solutions, being true to your word and yourself, and being respectful, irrespective of who is right or wrong.

The last of the Master strategies to Handling Difficult People & Situations is this.

Every single human being wants to feel valued, wants to be heard and needs to be understood.  By focusing on solutions and understanding, you are in the service business.  You will find positive outcomes, resulting in less anger and better resolutions for everyone involved.

In Summary

All of us face difficult people and situations, both in and outside of work. It’s inevitable.  However putting your energy into resolving and handling difficult people and situations, comes down to your attitude, your people skills and how you feel, think and act, that will result in a positive outcome for all. 

So take the initiative – don’t give away your power, or let difficult interactions affect your mind or performance in your workplace or relationships.

Over to You.

Think about your experiences with handling difficult people & situations

Dealing with difficult people and situations is never easy. However, there are some great resources, and particular skills you can learn and develop, to help you resolve these conflicts.

One great resource that many other organisations have used before is the Handling Difficult People & Situations course from CTO. 

This course is perfect if you who want to equip yourself with the necessary skills to manage difficult people and resolve difficult situations effectively and professionally.

Upon the completion of the )Handling Difficult People & Situations course, you will be able to: 

  • Identify who the problematic people in your life have been in terms of their characteristics and the rewards they get for behaving as they do.
  • Examine how your personal beliefs and values play into the way you deal with difficult people.
  • Identify the ‘sources of power’ difficult people have over you, and learn the degree of difficulty posed by each one.
  • Assess each difficult situation, to enable you to make a good decision about how to handle the situation you face.
  • Learn new tools to help you find the right words
  • You’ll also receive a process model, to guide you through difficult interactions with grace and skill.

To discover more about the Handling Difficult People & Situations course from Corporate Training Options, you can view the course outline here.

Alternatively, please contact us by email at, for the latest team member training packages.

The Benefits of the strategies to Handle Difficult People & Situations Training Courses include:

  • We focus your training on the outcomes you require for your team
  • Your training can be provided on the dates which suit you
  • Training can be provided for a number of trainees for the same rate
  • You can choose topics from different courses, and your trainer will tailor your sessions around these requirements
  • Our trainers are available to present your training within two weeks of your booking date.

 Why Choose Corporate Training Options?

  • Your Trainers are certified experts who are real-world practitioners
  • The courses are interactive, well organised and fun – making it easier for you to learn
  • Small classes mean each trainee will receive individual attention and can be confident about the skills gained
  • Our complimentary trainer consultation prior to your training ensures your objectives will be met
  • CTO is a Business Excellence Award winning company

About Corporate Training Options

Corporate Training Options is Australia’s leading professional development training company.  Incorporated in 1992, we have facilitated & run over 100,000 training courses across Australia and in numerous international locations.

CTO training provides a cost-effective way of ensuring you and your staff are presenting your best image to the world.  CTO Professional Development and Computer Training courses are customised to meet your requirements, and your training is provided on-site, on dates which suit you.

The courses will assist you to develop strong skills in: 

  • Customer Service 
  • Leadership & Management
  • Strategic Business Planning
  • Project Management
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Business Administration
  • Finance & Accounting
  • People & Culture 
  • Computer Training
  • Personal Development

Each CTO trainer has specific areas of expertise. This enables them to provide invaluableassistance to organisations like yours, seeking to maximise your investment in your teams and your technology.

So if you’re ready to upgrade your skills, or you wish to tackle some new challenges, contact Corporate Training Options today. We’ll meet your specific needs with a tailored training course to suit your requirements.

We look forward to working with you, to build your confidence, improve your efficiency and maximise your potential.

Rosy King

Corporate Training Options

Professional Training  –  Exceptional Results