Six tips on how to deal with difficult people
Beth was starting to dread going to work. Every morning she had the experience of going to her office and having to walk by Matt who either ignored her or seemed to be ‘in a huff.’ Having to deal with Matt’s moodiness was starting to wear on her. Beth had tried to act like she didn’t notice and gave her normal cheery greeting when she saw Matt, but it actually bothered her and put her in a bad mood just thinking about going to work.
Then there is Jacob. Jacob had started working as a CEO in the charitable sector. He had years of success working in the not-for-profit space. This organization was different. His newly acquired staff team talked negatively about team members behind their backs. When Jacob approached the various people involved, they said this was normal and how the organization had always run. They weren’t willing to confront issues in a way that would actually bring positive resolutions, especially when they believed it was always someone else’s fault.
It seems that from time to time, we all run into someone that for one reason or another is difficult to deal with.
If you encounter a difficult person, here are six tips to keep in mind:
1. Assure the person that you care about them.
2. Let them know that you care about what they care about.
3. Communicate to them what you have observed (ie: the facts) using tentative language, and how it has impacted you.
4. Check out what you have experienced with them to make sure you got it right.
5. Propose a solution while at the same time being open to solutions they may offer.
6. Try a solution you both agree on and arrange to check in with each other at a future date to evaluate how it’s working.
People aren’t usually difficult on purpose. It may be a result of something that is going on in their personal life, a difference in values or perspectives, or even a clash in personalities. Approaching people you find difficult in a caring way, using tentative language, and offering possible solutions provides an opportunity to find solutions that may work for both of you.