University of California, Riverside

Human Resources



How to Interact with Difficult People


At some point in your career, you may encounter an individual who you perceive to be a difficult person.  In an effort to remain professional and resolve a potential conflict, try these tips.

Be honest and direct

How to Do It:

  • State your concern from your perspective. For example,
  • “I have a hard time concentrating when…”
  • “I can’t meet my deadlines if…”
  • “It’s hard for me to be positive when…”

Listen carefully

How to Do It:

  • Listen to what the other person is saying instead of getting ready to react
  • Avoid interrupting the other person
  • After the other person finishes speaking, rephrase what was said to make sure you understand it

Avoid blaming

How to Do It:

  • Focus on the facts.  Finding fault can prevent problem-solving

Stay focused

How to Do It:

  • Discuss the specific situation, avoid generalizing
  • Avoid getting sidetracked into discussing other problems
  • Keep bringing the conversation back to the concern you’ve stated

Say less

How to Do It:

  • After you state the problem, allow silence until the other person responds

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Department Information

Human Resources
1201 University Ave., Suite 208
Riverside, CA 92507

Tel: (951) 827-5588
Fax: (951) 827-2672

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