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Building Healthy Relationships Pt. 6

by denise knight 4 years ago in advice
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Co-existing With Disagreeable People

We all know them. We may have even been one—a disagreeable, antagonistic individual. Disagreeable people are often obnoxious. They are exasperating, annoying, ungrateful, complaining, and condescending.

Most disagreeable people do not set out to be ornery and combative. They are usually products of dysfunctional relationships and poor home-lives. In an effort to deal with their toxic surroundings they develop defensive, antagonistic mindsets in order to deal with feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. Often they cannot see that they have a problem. One can overcome if they are willing to seek help, but if they refuse, they will continue a pattern of dysfunction and destroy their relationships.

Disagreeable people live in the past. As a manipulation tactic of those with which they currently relate, they constantly refer to how the past was so much better than the present. They try to make others feel as unworthy as they do.

Disagreeable people often have martyr syndrome. They act as if everything they do is the ultimate sacrifice. They make themselves believe that the whole world is "out to get them" and that those with whom they relate just use or mistreat them.

Disagreeable people often have fits of anger. If they feel like their self-esteem is under attack, they will lash out verbally and sometimes physically. While physical assaults are dangerous, verbal assaults can also be detrimental. When one lashes out with cruel words and demeaning phrases, it is a sign that there is a deep-seated problem and professional help should be sought.

If you find yourself in a relationship with a disagreeable person, here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Seek professional counseling for all parties. There is no shame in seeking help. This choice is liberating and empowering.
  2. In a confrontation, stay calm. Do not escalate the problem. A disagreeable person feeds off of emotional outbursts. They will always use it to their advantage. Don't give them the upper hand.
  3. Surround yourself with supportive people. Do not give up healthy relationships. A faithful friend or loyal family member will give one strength. Join a club, go to church, participate in a community project; don't become a helpless victim with no resources at your disposable.
  4. Embrace your own hobbies, career, and continue to better yourself. It is not love when one person forces another to give up who he/she is in order to keep them appeased. That is not love; it is a psychological prison.
  5. Set a boundary/consequence system. Communicate this clearly and specifically to yourself.
  6. If the disagreeable party refuses help and the situation becomes toxic, it may be time to get out of the relationship. Broken relationships are painful, but abuse, of any kind, is more painful.
"In conclusion, to know how to handle unreasonable and difficult people is to truly master the art of communication. As you utilize these skills, you may experience less grief, greater confidence, better relationships, and higher communication prowess." (Ni, 2013).

When communicating with a disagreeable person, remember:

  1. Clearly establish limits. An antagonistic person gains power through their words; complaining, criticizing, and manipulating. Do not give them power. Establish for yourself and others what type of conversations you will and will not be a part of. If needed, walk away.
  2. Forgive, but don't forget. When a disagreeable person apologizes to woo you back into the relationship, forgive them. You may even choose to give them another chance, but clearly communicate your boundaries again, and don't forget their tactics and agendas.
  3. Do not respond out of emotions. You may be validated in the emotions you are experiencing, but do not respond to your antagonizer out of emotions. That feeds their power. Choose your words carefully and methodically. If you later need to express your emotions, try journaling or speaking with a mentor or counselor.
  4. Converse only about solutions, not about problems. This will weed out those who want to wallow in self-pity or manipulate, from those who sincerely desire help.


Ni, Preston (2013). Ten keys to handling unreasonable & difficult people. PSYCHOLOGY TODAY. Retrieved from:


About the author

denise knight

wife, homeschool mom, author, musician, educator, and counselor

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