How should one handle difficult people?

Lama Ole’s answer:

When people are difficult, it’s usually best to let them do their own thing. Just keep your distance! You are not being paid to educate them. But if you can’t avoid them, then think, “I can learn patience here! Without patience, no enlightenment; without difficult people, no patience. Thank you!”

In any case, the best thing is simply to do what’s in front of your nose and not pay attention to anger. There is a story about Buddha himself. Someone came to him and really wanted to stir up trouble. Buddha listened for a while and then said, “If someone wants to give you a gift but you don’t take it, who does it belong to?” “To the giver!” the man replied. “So take your trip with you,” Buddha said. “Sorry, but I don’t need it or want it.”

You can very calmly examine whether you want to have the trip or not. If the troublesome person isn’t bothering you much, just see him as an exotic animal from the zoo. It’s different when someone is clearly disturbing many people. If they are harming others, then to some degree you have responsibility to deal with them. Then you have to check whether they are difficult because they are unable to act any other way, or whether they just want to be difficult. It’s probably best to praise them highly and then send them somewhere else. If that’s not possible because they dig their claws in and seek your constant attention, then try to make it clear to them that you don’t have much time and have to see what is possible.

But we should always have patience and also see such people as a mirror for our own mind. It also depends on our view whether we constantly meet difficult people or not. If a teacher comes into the classroom and thinks, “Oh no, what are these thirty gorillas doing here?” then he will not be able to teach the children much because you can’t teach gorillas much. But if he comes in and thinks, “Wow, what are these thirty Einsteins doing here?”—then everything becomes possible.

If you provoke difficult people, ignore them, and block them from getting what they want—making them angry—then you’ll build up negative Karma for yourself. But if you act with good motivation, if you want to help people, then things will work out well. It really depends on the motivation.