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Whether they sit next to you at work or stand in front of you in line at the grocery store, the world is full of difficult people. You know, the ones with no patience or no manners or just no regard for humans other than themselves. Since encountering such folks is pretty much inevitable, here are six ways to cope without losing your mind.

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Keep your cool
We know this is hard, but freaking out at an unreasonable person will only make them behave less reasonably. Try to be less reactive. If you feel yourself on the brink of an outburst, take a deep breath and slowly count to ten, realizing that the consequences of snapping are way more lasting than the temporary relief you get.

Pick your battles
Understand and accept that some people are difficult by nature, and it’s fairly unlikely that they’ll change. Don’t waste your time and energy on every little thing. So, if your coworker who consistently turns in projects late also never refills the coffee maker, let the coffee thing go and save your energy for bigger battles that matter more.

Diffuse the situation with humor
Make light of a tense situation by cracking a joke. Hopefully your willingness to lighten the mood will disarm them, but even if they don’t find it funny, take solace in knowing that you will, even if only for a minute.

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Comedy Central

Don’t stoop to their level
To quote every elementary school teacher ever, two wrongs don’t make a right. As tempting as it is to mirror someone’s attitude, it’s counterproductive and, frankly, kind of childish. Instead, as cliché as it sounds, be the bigger person.

Dealing with a difficult person is similar to dealing with a child. Being dismissive will only add fuel to the fire. Try your hardest to actually listen to what they’re saying (even if it’s totally ridiculous) and engage in a grown-up dialogue about what they’re feeling. We’re not going to lie: In the moment this will probably be super hard, but in the long run it’s so worth it to make them feel like they’re being heard. 

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