Dealing Effectively with Difficult People and Situations

They’re everywhere – people who are just plain difficult. How do you handle them without losing your sanity? Here’s a few of Deb’s top tips for difficult situations.

Keep in mind – it’s their problem, not yours!
Some people live for turmoil, argue for the sake of arguing and seem to go out of their way to be difficult. Regardless of why people are difficult, you are responsible for the way you act and react to individuals and situations.

Have a script; be prepared
Difficult people will often pull you into their trap. If you are caught off guard, you are more likely to do or say something you may regret. Having a script in your head so you know what to say and how you will act will give you the advantage and piece of mind.

Paraphrase and use “I” language
Paraphrasing involves demonstrating what another person is saying. It allows you to acknowledge the other person’s message, check for understanding and correct any confusion. It allows the other person to know that they have been heard. This will help work reasonably toward a solution. “You” language can make a person become defensive. Instead of saying “you should” or “you must,” try “I was expecting” or “I encourage you to… ”

Try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective
This is not as easy as you would imagine. It requires an authentic desire to learn and a willingness and openness to consider the other person’s thoughts, emotions and actions. This requires you to avoid making assumptions, ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. The better you understand another person’s perspective, the better they are able to effectively communicate with that person.

Separate the person from the issue
In every communication there are two elements present- the relationship with the person and the issue that is being discussed. To be an effective communicator you need to separate the person from the issue.
You need to be soft on the person, but firm on the issue. For example you could say, “I need to ask you some questions, but I can’t do that when you are yelling. Let’s either talk more quietly or take a few minutes to collect yourself and we’ll try again.” When we are soft on the person, they will be more open to what we have to say. When we’re firm on the issue, we are seen as strong problem solvers.

Just a note if dealing with difficult people is a common occurrence at your workplace –Deb also conducts Breakfast and Lunch and Learn sessions on this topic to delve deeper. Check out this and over 50 other topics that Deb presents with her DC Efficiency Consulting division!