7 tips for dealing with irrational people

Dealing with someone who’s irrational can drive you to despair or make you question your own sanity. Yet some people seem to never get their feathers ruffled…how do they do it?

As much as we might like to think we’re always logical, we’re all irrational sometimes. Certain medical conditions, medications, and simple exhaustion can cause people to behave irrationally. Of course, knowing someone’s illogical behavior has a logical cause doesn’t make it any easier to deal with!

Here are 7 tips for living with irrational people:

Take a step back

Before you dismiss someone’s version of reality, take a look at the situation from their perspective. Even people who are delusional are often responding to real-world stimuli. Listen without judging them. There might be more logic to their behavior than you realize.

Focus on what you agree on

Taking a look at things from their perspective makes it easier to find things you agree on. Find the kernels of truth and use those to improve the situation.

Be patient

Easier said than done, I know. Step back from the situation or pause the conversation if you need to. You can’t calm someone else down if you aren’t calm yourself.

Ignore it if you can

Sometimes the storm is just passing through, other times it’s here to stay. If someone throws an occasional temper tantrum without causing lasting damage, it may be best to simply move on as if it never happened.

Figure out what they want

It’s common for people to act out when they want attention. No one wants to encourage bad behavior, but it could be a sign that they need more attention or support in general. Take the time to listen and ask what they need.

Know people’s buttons

The better you know someone, the better you become at navigating around their buttons. If you have to make someone do something they’re uncomfortable with, this knowledge will help you make the situation as easy on them as possible.

Don’t dispute their reality

Arguing about what is or isn’t will get you nowhere. Use non-argumentative phrasing, such as “from my perspective,” “I saw things differently,” or “I thought.” Give them the opportunity to agree with you without admitting that they were wrong.


Originally published at thecaregiverspace.org on July 6, 2015.