So is it any surprise that in Dealing with Difficult People the easy option is simply to not do it! Does that ring a bell? Yet if you look around, there are those who find this a lot less of a problem.
“Every moment that you spend upset, in despair, in anguish, angry or hurt because of the behavior of anybody else in your life is a moment in which you have given up control of your life.”
“In the school of life, difficult people are the faculty. They teach us our most important spiritual lessons, the lessons that we would be most unlikely to learn on our own.”
Mark I. Rosen
Top Ten Things About Dealing with Difficult People
The tendency is to come at this is from two-sides. Two adversaries locked in a battle for survival. It is scary when Dealing with Difficult People! Truly, we have been there. Want some examples of evasiveness?
- Leave it till the end of the day.
- Make sympathetic noises with what other people are experiencing at the hands of the person – but do little.
- Only see what they are very good at and ‘park’ the rest.
- Promote them out of your team.
- Think it’s you, not them.
Etc., etc., etc. From their point of view, and we know there can be some real stinkers out there, they often don’t realise that their behaviour is unacceptable. This is a do-able issue – be brave at first and it will always be with you.
The best at Dealing with Difficult People…
- Communicate Well
They listen well and let the other party do a lot of the talking. They ask open questions and allowing a lot of space. This is a space for the difficult person.
- Act Normally
When working with a ‘difficult person’, those who handle it will treat them very normally. They don’t avoid them, nor do they behave differently than they would with anyone else.
- Seek to Understand
The best exponents of this skill appreciate the ‘difficult person’s’ point of view. They recognise that issues are real to them and honour that.
- Behaviour is not Personal
They make sure that they treat the issue as unacceptable behaviour, not a ‘bad’ person. The ‘difficult person’ does not have a personal issue usually with those who deal with them, they are difficult with everyone!
- Understand Fear
‘Difficult people’ behave the way they do usually out of some sort of fear. Through building a better relationship with them the best at Dealing with Difficult People are able to get closer to the source and hence move towards resolution.
- Small Things
Sometimes they are able to find simple and easy clues to what is irritating the ‘difficult person’. And then they fairly and reasonably fix the problems – they are even able aometimes to create a champion out of a ‘difficult person’!.
- Build Trust
Those best at Dealing with Difficult People develop a sense of trust with their ‘difficult person’. Often the behaviour of others will have tainted their experiences and cause serious mistrust. This can be changed.
- Find a Solution
When you are very capable of Dealing with Difficult People it is sometimes the simple acts which have the most effect. Just asking them what it is they want can often be an easy solution. It’s just that no-one ever asked before!
- Help Them
And often all these difficult people want is to be loved, to feel wanted, to be a part of the team again. It’s a natural emotion which works in the favour of those exponents who do a great job here. They know that emotional buy-in is a great way forward.
- Recognise Qualities
Every employee is a valuable asset, whatever they are like. Sometimes the most irritating and vociferous are the best to have on the team – they are energised. And the very, very best in Dealing with Difficult People are able to turn their people around and enlist them as a strong advocate of their organisation. Instead of fighting inside they take on the competition!
Ten Ways to be Better at Dealing with Difficult People
- Build Relationships
Just talk to people. Listen to people. Spend time with them and show that you truly care.
- Focus on Outcomes
Bottom line – you have a business to run – you have goals and visions for your business. Whilst you are working towards these you are able to take really objective positions. Working in tandem with a ‘difficult person’ is challenging, but focus on where you are going, not the personal issues you face.
- See Value
Recognising the potential of ‘difficult people’ is half the battle. They are a value and flicking the switch that truly turns them on is a worthwhile challenge.
- Meet Regularly
For an ongoing issue, make sure that you show and keep your commitments to them. This builds trust and that, in turn, makes resolution
a whole lot easier.
- Be Honest and Open
It is no good trying to resolve issues when Dealing with Difficult People, if you are going to either renege on your agreements or fall down on your business targets. Now is the time to be frank and honest and get a stake in the ground. These people have been lied to enough. Be really clear on your expectations and stick to them. Change their view on authority forever!
If you can go some way to help them resolve the cause of their anger, and it fits with everything you and your business stands for, then do it – and do it fast. Whatever you promise, deliver on. Liaise with them in good time. Overdeliver on pace and issues, where you can. You will be amazed at what a difference this makes. Wanna become a hero – this works!
- Respect Them
These people are real human beings. They hurt just like you do. They are, it’s true, showing some tricky behaviours – so help them with them. Make a difference to that person – you could be changing their life in a way you would never have thought possible. Have some fun even. Share a laugh maybe?
- Find a Win-Win
Solutions when Dealing with Difficult People
are not cop-outs on either side. A compromise means that someone is losing here. Find a common position and seek to meet half way without losing site of what is the most important to each of you. there is usually a win-win out there. If not, it’s time to find a solution that removes them from your business.
- Stick to the Point
Be clear where you are going with your challenges. It is vital to have everything in place with the most difficult of ‘difficult people’. It is also of great value to have a majority on your side, albeit subtly to avoid an apparent ‘ganging up’. Play this game from a position of strength.
- Focus on Behaviours
There are often ways of highlighting a ‘difficult persons’ qualities. Usually when Dealing with Difficult People you’ll find they do have them! In many ways these people stick around because they like bits of the role, but not others, so you can play on their capabilities and leverage them. Treat them as a valuable person and work on the behaviours.
5 Simple Actions You Can Take Today!
- Some people will cause you pain in your business. Who are they? What is it costing you to have them behave in this way. What have you failed to do in the past? How have you impacted on their behaviour? Do you need to do anything differently? What would you wish it to be like with them? How would they behave? This is your goal.
- What do you need to do to make this better? What have you tried? What have you not tried and why not?
- If you have to have a difficult series of conversations, get all your facts straight and if necessary, start again. set clear expectations, goals and timescales. This works!
- Include in the discussions the good stuff too. They are mostly good people and want to do well. Can you find their button to press? Because that is the most cost-effective goal.
Read some great books like:-
“Time to Think” – Nancy Kline
“Fierce Conversations” – Susan Scott
“Coping with Difficult People” – Robert Bramson
“How to Deal with Verbal Aggression” – Robert Agar-Hutton
“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handling Difficult Employees” – Robert Bacal