You feel so frustrated, your jaw and palms clench, and every time you hope to have a good time, they always have their way of wrecking your day. That’s right, I am talking about that difficult person – that one person that knows all the right ways to push your buttons. Don’t we all have at least one in our lives? In this article I will be answering and talking about: What are the signs of a difficult person? How do you deal with a difficult person? And finally, some things to avoid when dealing with one.
What are the traits of a difficult person?
- Argues A LOT
- Gives excuses for all their behaviour
- Readily assigns blame to others but not him/herself
- Highly opinionated about everything
Things you can do
Choose an appropriate time and place and let them know how you feel. Be honest and calm. Use the dua Sayyedna Musa (PBUH) recited before speaking with the Pharoah.
قَالَ رَبِّ ٱشْرَحْ لِى صَدْرِى * وَيَسِّرْ لِىٓ أَمْرِى * وَٱحْلُلْ عُقْدَةًۭ مِّن لِّسَانِى * يَفْقَهُوا۟ قَوْلِى
Moses prayed, “My Lord! Uplift my heart for me * and make my task easy * and remove the impediment from my tongue * so people may understand my speech,1
Always remember: the idea here is to confront them while being polite and respectful. Pay special attention to your tone and the words you are choosing.
Make Dua that things become easier and ask Allah (SWT) to give you patience and clemency like our prophets (PBUT). Subhanallah Allah (SWT) changes the heart as He wills, so do not lose hope as Allah guides who He wants.
إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِى مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَهْدِى مَن يَشَآءُ ۚ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِٱلْمُهْتَدِينَ
You surely cannot guide whomever you like ˹O Prophet˺, but it is Allah Who guides whoever He wills, and He knows best who are ˹fit to be˺ guided.
Don’t forget: making dua by itself does not warrant that this person will magically change. You have to do your part first and Allah (SWT) will help you.
This is super challenging. I get it, trust me. But Allah (SWT) put you in that position to learn things about yourself and to raise your status in the Hereafter Inshallah. It just might happen that you were once difficult to someone and they had to be patient with you all the while you were oblivious. Every single time you remain patient you are acquiring the qualities of our Prophets (PBUT) inshAllah.
Just a reminder: don’t confuse being patient with accepting all blame that falls upon you. Islam preaches rights (huquq) and if a person is wrongfully accusing you of something, you should be able to stand up for yourself and be respectful all at once.
Show them empathy
You wouldn’t believe how past traumas or suppressed anger can affect a person’s behaviour towards other people. People tend to lash out because of their years of suppressed anger or hurt that have been locked away in their hearts, festering into adulthood.
Yeah, but you’re probably thinking “why do I need to care about their traumas and whatnot?” Because as Muslims, we are one Ummah where a Muslim cares about his/her Muslim brother/ sister. Therefore, if possible try to let them know they can trust you and open up to you instead of channelling their anger through you. You’d be amazed at how effective this can be in several cases. You might be the reason they change! You never know.
Most people will not be willing to admit to their past experiences. Show them empathy first, and once that trust has been established, then maybe they’ll open up and you might end having a healthy relationship after all.
Avoid them if you can
If you have tried multiple things with a friend but she still drains your energy, makes you feel distressed and anxious, and is just impossible to deal with, then avoid her and let go of her friendship. The sorrow of losing her is much more bearable than the constant agonizing.
However, you cannot do the same if that person is a family member as we should maintain links with our family despite how tough it gets. But don’t worry, you can still apply everything else in that case.
Put boundaries and be firm
Expect them to use their manipulative tactics on you by blaming you or someone else or another external factor that “caused” them to behave this way.
When confronting them, they might tell you that you’re being crazy, or irrational, or too sensitive. Why? Because they don’t want to admit that they’re wrong.
So, stand your ground and do not budge. Stay calm and let them know very clearly that they need to respect your boundaries, however please do it calmly and have an intention to fix things between you and them.
Find the reason to why they bother you that much
Believe it or not the reason of your suffering might not even be that person. It might have to do with you. Dig deeper and go back to a past memory or even a trauma in your childhood that made you feel a similar anger you’re experiencing now in your adulthood and try deal with it by acknowledging it and talking about it with someone you trust.
Ask yourself if they remind you of someone else who used to hurt you when you were a child (since childhood remarkably affects our perception of others)? Do you feel triggered by certain words or actions? If yes, look into the reason why. See if you can spot a pattern.
Things you should avoid
Allah (SWT) knows what’s in your heart and how much you’re struggling, that’s why people who remain calm and try to forgive people are specifically mentioned in the Quran.
ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِى ٱلسَّرَّآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ وَٱلْكَـٰظِمِينَ ٱلْغَيْظَ وَٱلْعَافِينَ عَنِ ٱلنَّاسِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ
Those who spend [in Allah’s Cause – deeds of charity, alms, etc.] in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).
When things get hard try to take deep breathes and leave the place for a while like the Messenger (PBUH) used to do. Moving away from all the tension will clear your head.
And when you go back to dealing with them (least fun part, right?!) try to avoid the following as much as you can:
Lashing out at them
Avoid any urge of shouting, yelling or calling them names because it will only make things worse, I promise. Don’t allow the Shaytan get the best of you. Shouting and insulting will be met with even more bitter shouting and insulting and you end up in this vicious circle. Trust me, it never, ever works.
Retaliating with the same behaviour
Don’t mimic their behaviour to get back at them. This concept of retaliation will only make you resent each other and cause hatred in the long run. As insanely hard as it can get, resist “getting revenge” because remember Allah (SWT) sees, hears, and knows everything and He is the Most Just. If anything your right will not be lost in vain.
Gossiping about them to everyone
You can ask someone for counsel, but please don’t go around gossiping about how horrible this person is and how much you want to slap them on the face. I get it it can be really tempting to just tell everyone the torture they’re making you go through, but again you will most probably feel worse and guilty afterward.
Gossipers need gossip more than oxygen to breathe. Muslims should see gossip as a deadly virus that eats away at them instead.
Let me know in the comments if you have dealt with a similar situation and were you able to tackle it successfully?