How to Deal With Stubborn People

Three Parts:Stroking Their EgosPersuading ThemMaking It Stick

It's no fun to try to convince a stubborn person to do what you want. Dealing with stubborn people can be very frustrating and exhausting, whether you're talking to a co-worker or your own mother. But if you understand that stubborn people are just afraid of bruising their egos and doing something new, you can make them feel more comfortable -- and convince them to see your side of the story. So how do you deal with a stubborn person without ripping your hair out in the process? Just follow along.

Part 1
Stroking Their Egos

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    Start with a bit of flattery. One of the reasons that stubborn people are the way they are is because they hate to be wrong. They think that they know the best way to do everything, and therefore, they may be a bit sensitive when they are told that there are other ways to do things; they may view a difference in opinion as a personal attack even if you mean no harm. So, when you talk to stubborn people, try to make them feel good about themselves by offering them a bit of flattery first. Just make sure it's sincere and that it doesn't sound like you're just sucking up to get your way. Here are some ways you can start off:
    • "I know you've been working so hard lately. I'm so impressed by how you're able to keep your act together during such a stressful time."
    • "You always have such great ideas and I thought I'd throw one out for you."
    • "I'm so glad I got to see you today. I've missed hanging out with you."
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    Show that you value their opinions. Another thing you have to do to deal with stubborn people is to acknowledge their positions and show them that they really have a great idea. Don't make them think that their idea is completely stupid, invalid, or poorly thought-out (even if you feel that way), or their chances of listening to you will be approaching 0%. Make sure to repeat their argument and show that you do see the good in what the person is saying; that way, the person will see that you do value him or her as well as his or her ideas. This will make the person much more open to listening to you. Here are some things that you can say:
    • "I think going to get Italian is a great idea. I love the gnocchi at the Italian place, and they have such a great wine selection. However..."
    • "I know we didn't have the greatest time hanging out with Sarah and Mike last time, and you're right about them being a little bit weird. But I really think we should give them another chance."
    • "Moving to San Francisco from Oakland would have a lot of benefits, just like you said. There would be more to do, we'd be living closer to the airport and we do travel a ton, and we'd be moving closer to our best friends. But having said that..."
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    Don't tell them that they're wrong. The last thing that a stubborn person wants to hear is that he or she is flat-out wrong. Don't ever say, "You're not looking at this correctly," or "You just don't get it, do you?" And definitely don't say, "How could you be so wrong?" This will alienate the person and make him or her shut down completely. Make it clear that he or she has some great ideas and that you have considered them carefully. They may be right for another time or situation, but right now, you'd like to do what you want to do. Make that very clear.
    • Say things like, "We both have such great ideas" or "There are a lot of ways to look at this situation" to show that you think the person is "equally" right.
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    Show how the decision will benefit them. Stubborn people are often stubborn because they are very invested in themselves and how their decisions can help them feel even better and do what they want to do. So, if you want to stroke their egos a bit and make them think the decision is valid, you have to show how it can end up benefiting them, even if it may seem a little surprising. This will pique their interest and will make them much more likely to give in. Here are some things that you can say:
    • "I'd really love to check out the new sushi place down the street. Remember you said you were having a craving for fried ice cream? I heard they have an amazing a variety at that restaurant."
    • "Hanging out with Sarah and Mike should be fun, and what's more, I heard Mike has an extra ticket to the 49ers game and is looking for someone to go with him. I know you've been dying to go."
    • "If we stay in Oakland instead of moving to San Francisco, we'll be able to save on rent. We can use that extra money to go to Costa Rica this summer, just like you wanted to do."
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    Make them think they've come up with the idea on their own. This is another trick to convincing the stubborn person to do what you want. Make the person think that, in the course of your conversation, he or she had actually come up with the idea, or had introduced an important aspect of why the idea is such a good one. This will make the person feel proud of himself, and like he's still getting his own way. This can be a little tricky to pull off, but if you can do it right, you'll be amazed by how much better this will make the stubborn person feel. Here are some things you can say:
    • "That's a great idea! I forgot about how much I love plum wine. The sushi place will definitely have that."
    • "You're right -- we can meet up with Sarah and Mike this weekend. And you think Saturday night is the best time to do it, don't you?"
    • "That's so true -- I would miss our little farmer's market way too much if we left Oakland."

Part 2
Persuading Them

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    Be firm. The reason that stubborn people often get their way is because the people around them often cave in and let them get exactly what they want. This can be for a number of reasons: you may think that the person will throw a fit or sulk if he doesn't get his way, you may not have the energy to resist, or you may even be convinced that the person must want whatever you're arguing about more badly than you do. But remind yourself that the person is using cheap tactics to get his way, and that you're entitled to have things go your way for once.
    • If the person starts to get emotional or visibly upset, slow down until the person feels more calm, but don't just say, "Fine, fine, you can get your way, just stop crying" -- this will show the person that he or she can manipulate your emotions and get you to give up what you want easily.
    • Being firm means sticking to your side of the story and offering a rational, logical argument for why your idea is important. It does not mean getting aggressive or yelling or name calling. Stubborn people are already defensive, and this kind of behavior will only make them feel more threatened.
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    Give them information. Stubborn people are also afraid of the unknown. They may not want to do something simply because they've never done it before or because they're not used to breaking their routine. The more you can tell them about the situation, the better they will feel about it. They'll see that the thing you're proposing isn't so scary because they can have a sense of what it will be like. Here are some things you can say:
    • "The new sushi place has a great deal on sashimi. It's a lot cheaper than the Italian place too. They also have an awesome big screen TV, and you can catch the end of the game while we eat."
    • "Sarah and Mike have the cutest little dog -- you'll love him. Mike is also really into craft beer and they have an awesome selection. They only live fifteen minutes away, so it won't be a trek, either."
    • "Did you know that rent in San Francisco is on average 100% higher than the rent in Oakland? How can we afford to live there?"
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    Show them why it's important to you. If the stubborn person cares about you, then he or she will be persuaded just by hearing why the things you want would mean so much to you. This will help them see the situation on a human level, and they will see that it's about more than about being wrong or right, but about giving you what you really want and need. If you're in a relationship with this person, then helping them see why this would make you happy is a great move. Here are some things you can say:
    • "I've been craving sushi for weeks. Can we please go? I can always go with Maria, but that just won't be as fun as going with you."
    • "I'd really like to spend more time with Sarah and Mike. You know I've been lonely in our new neighborhood, and I'd love to have some more friends."
    • "I'd really love to live in Oakland for another year. Commuting to work is so easy for me, and I'd hate to have to wake up an hour earlier to get there."
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    Remind them that it's your turn. If you're used to dealing with this particular stubborn person, then chances are, you have given in again and again. It's time to put your foot down and remind the person of all of the things you have given up for him or her, whether it's big or small. You can do this without making them feel horrible, but you can really show them the big picture and let them see that it's time that you got what you wanted. Here are some things you can say:
    • "We've gone to the restaurant you've wanted to go to for the last five times we hung out. Can I pick, for once?"
    • "We've hung out with your friends instead of mine for the last three weekends. Can we give my friends a chance this time?"
    • "It was your idea to move to Oakland, remember? Well, now it's my idea to stay put."
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    Negotiate or compromise. You may not be able to get what you want completely, but you may be able to get the stubborn person to meet you halfway. Compromising or negotiating with the person can help you persuade him to do what you want to do without fully giving in. If the person is truly stubborn, then baby steps may be the way to go, and you won't be able to convince the person to follow your plan overnight. Here are some things you can say:
    • "Okay, we can go to the Italian place tonight. But that means we'll go to the sushi place tomorrow night, right?"
    • "How about we meet Sarah and Mike for a drink instead of coming over to their place for dinner? We'll still hang out with them for a bit, but it won't take up our whole night."
    • "I'd be open to moving to Berkeley. It's more expensive than Oakland, but not as pricey as San Francisco, and there's always a lot going on there, too.
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    Stay calm. If you really want to deal with a stubborn person and even have a chance of getting your way, then you can't let your emotions get the best of you. If you start getting visibly upset or even angry, then the person will think that he won, because you can't keep yourself in check. Take deep breaths, slow down, or even leave the room for a few minutes if you see yourself getting heated. The stubborn person will be much more likely to listen to you if you look calm and collected, not angry or crazed.
    • It's easy to lose your cool when you're dealing with someone who is unwilling to do what you want or to change. But remind yourself that the more likely you are to have an outburst, the less likely the person will be to see your side of the story.
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    Don't say that they're being stubborn. The last thing a stubborn person wants to hear is that he is stubborn. Stubborn people are defensive, and, well, stubborn, and if you even say this word around them, then they will clam up and be even less likely to change. Don't say, "Why do you have to be so stubborn!?" or the person will stop listening to you. Resist the urge to say this word even if it's on the tip of your tongue.
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    Find common ground. Finding common ground with the person can help you persuade him to see things from your perspective. Stubborn people can feel a bit ganged up on and if you convince the person that you're both coming from the same place, then he or she will be much more likely to listen to you then if you have wildly different opinions. Here are some things you can say:
    • "I completely agree that we've been having productivity issues at the company. We definitely need to find a solution here. However, I do think that it has more to do with a lack of employee satisfaction than with the new projects we've been assigned."
    • "I agree that the people we've been hanging out with have all been a little weird or boring. But if we don't give new friends a chance, we'll never find people we really like, will we?"

Part 3
Making It Stick

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    Ease them into change little by little. If you have to deal with a stubborn person in the long term, then you have to know that stubborn people don't like to dive head first into the unknown. They like to put their toes into the water and to slowly walk forward. So, if you want to convince a person close to you to try something different, then you have to get the person used to the idea little by little until the person is fully comfortable with the situation.
    • For example, if you have a slightly possessive friend who doesn't like the new friends you made from your art class, have the person meet the friends one on one for a short amount of time instead of throwing the person into your new friend group; this will make the person more likely to be excited about the new social situation.
    • If you're trying to convince your roommate to be more clean, then ask your roommate to do the dishes every other day. After that, you can talk about taking out the trash more often, vacuuming the carpet, and so on.
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    Pick your battles. This is key when dealing with stubborn people. You can get stubborn people to give in on some occasions, and with the right approach, you can even convince them to make some pretty big changes. However, if the person is truly stubborn, then it's unlikely that he or she will give in to your demands very often. So, if you have a hard time getting a stubborn person to do what you want, then you should only ask about the things you really care about.
    • Maybe you don't really care about picking the movie on date night; but you may, however, care about where you go on your spring break trip. Save up for that.
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    Break the pattern of always giving in. A stubborn person may continue to get his or her way around you because you always end up giving in. If you never say no, then why would the person want to change for you? So, the next time you're negotiating something, even if it's as simple as what movie to see, say that you're going to go on your own or go home if you don't get your way. This will surprise the stubborn person so much that he or she will either give in or will start to think of you as a person who can't be easily manipulated.
    • If you don't give in easily, the stubborn person will actually respect you more and will be more likely to value your opinion.
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    Don't beg or sound desperate. This is not a good way to get the person to come around to your point of view, no matter how badly you want things to go your way. If you feel that you've exhausted all of your resources and options, then just walk away. There's no use in degrading yourself by begging and whining, and this will not only not work with a truly stubborn person, but it will be a little humiliating for you.
    • If you want to convince a stubborn person to do something, you have to take the rational approach. The emotional approach will only make the person even less likely to agree with you.
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    Be patient. It takes time to truly persuade a stubborn person, especially if you're trying to break a stubborn pattern of behavior. It won't happen overnight, and you have to remind yourself that you'll have to start with the small stuff (what to watch on TV) before you can to move to the bigger issues (where to move). Tell yourself that you can change the person little by little, but that you won't be able to make him or her someone completely new.
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    Maintain your confidence. Confidence is key when you're dealing with stubborn people. If you waver or show some doubt in your own ideas, then the person will respect you less and will be even less likely to listen to you. You have to act like your idea or perspective is the best idea ever (without being arrogant, of course), and the person will be more likely to think you know your stuff. Don't let the person intimidate you into backing down or saying that maybe your own idea isn't so great.
    • Keep your head up, maintain eye contact, and don't let the person make you hunch over or look at the floor when you're talking. Maintaining a confident posture can go a long way in making your ideas sound confident.
    • If you're nervous about what you have to propose, practice it in advance. This will make you sound more confident about your ideas when the time comes.
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    Know when to give up. Unfortunately, you may try everything when you're dealing with the stubborn person and may get absolutely no results. If the stubborn person isn't budging an inch, listening to you at all, or willing to accept another perspective though you've tried providing more information, flattering him, being firm, and showing how much the decision would mean to you, then it may be time to walk away. If you can't do any good, then you may only be doing harm, and it's better to leave the situation if you know it's not going anywhere.
    • If you keep trying to make a stubborn person see your point of view to no avail at all, then you may end up being the stubborn one.
    • Giving up on a stubborn person doesn't mean you're weak. It just means that you have been rational and know when there's nothing else that can be done.


  • Don't try to fight if the person's stubborn-it'll make it worse.
  • Know yourself first!
  • It's not a game or not funny if the person doesn't find it funny why do it?
  • Forgive and forget!
  • Make a small compromise like let's keep the dog for a month and see how the training kicks in.


  • This person maybe not a bad person he or she's just nervous if she or he knows that you're picking on her or him she or he will not talk to you or want to be your friend that's not a way to make friends don't pick on them real friends are not pickers or pointers real friends care what they feel inside and do the best friend can be understand his or her issues are if you can't get help!

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Categories: Social Nuisances