How to Deal with Difficult People During a Crisis

Kelly Reeves
5 min readApr 13, 2020

…Or at any time

Times are tough. Tensions are high. In the past month, we’ve been sequestered in our homes with our spouses, children, roommates, or completely alone. Other than walking the dog 18 times a day, we don’t have much of an outlet. Gyms are closed. We can’t go to the beach, parks, restaurants, bars, or even get our hair and nails done. We are beginning to suffer from cabin fever in the worst way.

While I’ve seen the best in people during this time, people who have shown exceptional generosity and compassion, I’ve also seen the worst in people- behavior so vile it would make Roseanne Barr look like an angel wearing a Mr. Rogers mask.

I’ve been the target of repugnant prose lately that I can only assume is the result of COVID rage. Some guy called me a “racist” and a “retard” simply because I didn’t like his condescending and insensitive comment to a friend whose mom just passed away 3 weeks ago. Meanwhile, her brother tested positive for coronavirus and is currently in ICU.

Another friend posted a note on Easter praising a federal judge who overruled Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer’s decision to ban all services, including drive-in church. One follower’s response: “Every one who attends these services should be fined 1000 bucks and the pastors need to be dragged out into the street and shot in the head.”

WHOA! And this is just on social media. There has also been a great deal of concern over the potential increase in domestic violence during this time.

What is this world coming to? I know we are feeling stonewalled, concerned, fearful, uncertain, and confused. We aren’t sleeping well. Our routines are off. Many have lost their jobs and their livelihoods. Parents are now teachers home schooling their kids. Everyone is on edge, but is that any reason to communicate with or treat your fellow man or woman in such a revolting manner?

When dealing with someone who’s being completely irrational, unreasonable, or just being a complete asshole, our fear response kicks in. It starts in the fight, flight, or freeze part of our brains called the amygdala. It responds by sending signals to the hypothalamus, which stimulates the autonomic nervous system (ANS). It can’t discern…

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Kelly Reeves

Expert copywriter with a focus on tech, entrepreneurship, and personal growth; former PR flack. Animal rescuer. Prone to random bouts of rancor.