How to Deal With the Irritability of Others

by Nina Edwards
When encountering an irritable person, knowing the right steps to take can help you avoid stepping on toes.

When encountering an irritable person, knowing the right steps to take can help you avoid stepping on toes.

Dealing with irritable people is stressful and unpleasant, particularly when it involves close friends and colleagues. Those closest to you are often in a position to deal harshly with you, hurting your feelings. It’s important to be able to deal with the negative feelings of others to avoid harming important relationships in your life and to avoid awkward confrontations with irritable people. By dealing with irritable people and their behavior you’ll learn how to develop more effective relationships with those people.

Apply Emotional Intelligence

Often, the best way to deal with difficult or irritable people is this: don’t respond to their negative behavior. Emotional intelligence refers in part to the ability to control your emotions when you are in stressful situations, according to the article in the “Ivey Business Journal” by Roy Lubit entitled, “The Tyranny of Toxic Managers: Applying Emotional Intelligence to Deal With Difficult Personalities.” By not responding to their negative behavior in a like-for-like fashion, you defuse the situation and can be successful in overcoming their irritable behavior by controlling the way you speak and act toward them.

Get Out

Sometimes, the only way to escape or avoid someone’s irritating behavior is to leave the situation entirely. Depending on the severity of the irritation, you may need to leave the room -- or even the relationship, according to an article on YourTango by Dr. Susan Heitler entitled, “Anger Management: How to Handle His Temper.” The moment you sense tension in the room or a growing sense of awkwardness between you and that other person, it may be time to leave the environment.

Give Him His Space

Trying to reason with someone who is irritable may make the situation worse -- not better. By leaving his personal space and returning to talk later when he is calmer, you can have a more constructive discussion with that person. Give him as much time as he needs to clear his mind. If he is still irritable when you return, leave again and repeat the process until he is calm enough to reason.

Remain Calm

Remaining level-headed will help you think straight and ease the tension between you and the other person. By being calm, you can begin to perceive what kind of irritable person you are dealing with and how to deal with her, according to an article on Psychology Today entitled, “The High Art of Handling Problem People” by Hara Estroff Marano. Also remaining calm enables you to bring an air of stability and rationality to the situation so that you can discuss her behavior and reach a resolution with her.

About the Author

Nina Edwards holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been writing about families and relationships since 2000. She has numerous publications in scholarly journals and often writes for relationship websites as well. Edwards is a university lecturer and practicing psychologist in New York City.

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