How to deal with difficult people
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Have you ever encountered someone who frustrates you so much that you feel like you’re going to pull your hair, run around the room and scream loudly? You’re not alone.
So rather than turn to some drastic decisions each time, why not equip yourself with the skills to deal with them?
Here are 9 tips which I’ve found to work in dealing with such people:
1. Be calm
Losing your temper and usually yelling out at the other person isn’t the best way to get him/her to cooperate with you. It is better to stay a calm person because you know that rage will push the person into action and you deliberately use it as a tactic to move him/her.
2. Understand the person’s intentions.
No one is difficult for the sake of being difficult. Even though the individual may seem to be just out to get you, there is always some underlying reason that motivates them to do so. This drive is rarely apparent. Try to identify the cause of the person: what is he/she doing in this way? What stops him/her from collaborating with you? How can you help to meet his/her needs and resolve the situation?
3. Get some perspective from others.
In all probability, in some way or another, the colleagues, supervisors, and friends must have experienced similar circumstances. From a different angle, they will be able to see things and offer a different take on the situation. Look for them, share your story and listen to what they’ve got to say. In the center of the discussion, you might very well find some golden advice.
4. Let the person know where you are coming from.
Let the person know your intentions behind what you are doing. Sometimes, they are being resistant because they think that you are just being difficult with them. Letting them in on the reason behind your actions and the full background of what is happening will enable them to empathize with your situation. This lets them get them on-board much easier.
5. Build a rapport.
With all the computers, emails and messaging systems, work sometimes turns into a mechanical process. Re-instill the human touch by connecting with your colleagues on a personal level. Go out with them for lunches or dinners. Get to know them as people, and not colleagues. Learn more about their hobbies, their family, their lives. Foster strong connections. These will go a long way in your work.
6. Treat the person with respect.
No one likes to be treated as if he/she is stupid/incapable/incompetent. If you are going to treat the person with disrespect, it’s not going to be surprising if he/she treats you the same way as well. As the golden rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
7. Focus on what can be actioned upon.
Sometimes, you may be put into hot soup by your difficult colleagues, such as not receiving a piece of work they promised to give or being wrongly held responsible for something you didn’t do. Whatever it is, acknowledge that the situation has already occurred. Rather than harp on what you cannot change, focus on the actionable steps you can take to forward yourself in the situation.
If you have already tried everything above and the person is still not being receptive, the best way might be to just ignore. After all, you have already done all that you can within your means. Get on your daily tasks and interface with the person only where needed. Of course, this isn’t feasible in cases where the person plays a critical role in your work – which leads us to our last tip.
9. Escalate to a higher authority for resolution.
When all else fails, escalate to your manager. This is considered the trump card and shouldn’t be used unless you’ve completely exhausted your means. Sometimes, the only way to get someone moving is through the top-down approach, especially in bureaucratic organizations. Be careful not to exercise this option all the time as you wouldn’t want your manager to think that you are incapable of handling your own problems. I have done this several times in my previous job and I found it to be the most effective in moving people who just refuse to cooperate otherwise.
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