Practical Insights in Dealing with Difficult People


“Practical Insights in Dealing with Difficult People,” an evening with Dr. David Lieberman

Aish Ha’Torah’s wonderful 30 day program on CLEAN SPEECH concluded with a presentation at
the J with featured speaker Dr. David Lieberman. For those not familiar with him, he is an award winning
author and internationally recognized leader in the field of human behavior and interpersonal relationships.

His discussion topic: “Practical Insights on Dealing with Difficult People”, and who can’t use that
information? I will share a few of his insights, but if you want to learn more, I suggest you read one
or more of his books (two of which were on the New York Times Best Seller List for quite some

  1. Appreciate that everything in our life is a message from G-d, and He is giving us “scenarios” for
    us to learn. Hashem is speaking to us through every person and every relationship. People
    often miss Hashem’s message, as we are focusing on the MESSENGER and not the
  2. Just because someone did something wrong doesn’t mean that we have to get angry as a
    result. We need to ask, “What does this mean?” and not ascribe a “personal motivation” to it.
    Why do we take it personally? Our ego!!! The degree to which we are not bothered by other
    people is the degree to which we can love and accept ourselves.
    The BODY does what LOOKS good
    The EGO does what FEELS good
    The SOUL does what IS good!
    If you are dealing with someone who is emotionally unwell, they cannot give, they can only
    take. Be nice to them and consider it Chesed; don’t get frustrated and angry because they can’t
    give back to you.
  4. Have COMPASSION. It’s hard to be “you;” it’s Have COMPASSION. It’s hard to be “you;” it’s
    harder to be that difficult person. They don’t want to be that way, so don’t get angry.
    Understand that they don’t know how to be different much of the time.
  5. When a person is not in the best mental health, we cannot cure them, but we can help build
    them up in the best possible way. Do things such as ask the person for advice, give them a
    genuine compliment, etc.
  6. Don’t confuse intelligence and emotional well-being. We think if someone is smart,
    successful or talented, then they are ok…that is irrelevant. IQ doesn’t make anyone more
    rational or emotionally healthy. It is our self-esteem that determines the direction of our
    behavior, not our intelligence.

Dr. Lieberman had a Q and A after his talk. One gentleman asked him “What do you think Will Smith should have done in [the recent] situation?” He answered it, but I turned to the guy who asked the question and here was my answer: “If Will Smith would have had Torah wisdom, he would have known what happened to Moshe when he demanded water and “hit the ROCK!” 🙂

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