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Monday, 30 April 2007 08:27

Quick Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

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Your hands are sweating; your stomach is in knots. Once again you need to sit down and discuss your project requirements document with that obnoxious team member. The one who just drives you crazy. If you say left, they say right. But that’s OK because you put it off until the very end of the day. You immersed yourself in other work and did not bother to think about this conversation. After all why waste time on a no win situation? You are going to stop by their desk, tell them how it will be and then go home.


But what if there were another way? It is not likely that the difficult person will change for you, but you can change the way the two of you interact. You can take more control of the situation and work towards a positive outcome.

Consider this approach:

  • Prepare for the conversation in advance. Identify what you hope to gain from the interaction and begin with this end in mind.
  • Be flexible; do not be so focused on your end goal that you cannot take a detour in the conversation. This detour may help you understand the perspective of your difficult person.
  • Select a time that is convenient to both of you. A time when you can both can listen and exchange information without additional pressures or distractions.
  • Listen; really listen to what they are saying. If they say something like, ‘I cannot do that’ or ‘That will not work’; ask them why. Whatever issue they have may not be about you. Try to get the real problem out in the open.
  • Maintain emotional objectivity. Remember, whatever drives them to be difficult is about them, not about you.
  • An individual who is upset may become defensive and verbally attack you. Stay calm, take a deep breath and pause before responding.

If the discussion gets too heated, recommend that you both take some time to cool off. Then agree upon a time when you will reconvene.  No matter how difficult, deal with the situation. Agree to stick with the situation until you have both been able to understand one another. You do not have to agree, but you want to work toward a relationship where you can respect each other as individuals and professionals.


Read 7306 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:15

My vision is to be instrumental in the development of individuals who are at peace with their authentic selves; people who show others that it is OK to be human at work; who brings — and values — humanity to the office and thrives because of it. I want to create a world where peace and business co-exist.


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