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I am sure that you have all had to deal with difficult people before but how did you get on? Dealing with difficult people can make you change your normal behaviours, make you think that it is your fault that they are behaving in this way, undermine your self confidence and negatively impact your business and personal life.
Difficult people are found in all areas of your life. They may be difficult because they are rude, they have to have the last word, they shout at you or raise their voices, they are always right, they undermine you, they don't listen or they do not honour their commitments. You probably will have your own examples.
Here are some tips to try when dealing with difficult people:
Accept that their behaviour is not personal. Usually the difficult person has nothing personal against you, they are just difficult with everyone. Accept that you are dealing with unacceptable behaviour and work on their behaviours. Look for the person's good qualities and focus on these.
Act normally. When dealing with a difficult person it can make you act differently to you usually do. You can start to avoid them or behave differently towards them. Try and be yourself and treat them as you would anyone else.
Try and understand them. The difficult person may be behaving as such for a reason. Try and understand the difficult person and their point of view. They may have issues that can be addressed which will improve the relationship. It may be a very small issue that is impacting them that is easily resolved.
Communicate well. It is easy for communication to suffer with a difficult person. However, it is very important to communicate well with them. Try to listen to them and to understand what they are trying to say and what they want.
Build a relationship and trust. The difficult person may be the way they are because of a lack of trust in others or of others in them. Therefore spend time building your relationship and trust in each other.
Be honest and open. When dealing with a difficult person be honest and open. If you are unhappy with their behaviour then let them know. It is a good idea to ask them what they would like you to change, then let them know what changes they can make to improve the relationship.
Make them feel good. The difficult person may suffer from low self-confidence or self-esteem. Make them feel good about themselves by focusing on their strengths and good qualities.
Focus on the outcome. Keep focused on the outcome that you want to achieve in your relationship with the difficult person. This will help you to keep objective and better able to deal with the person.
Find a win-win situation. Look for a solution where both you and the difficult person benefit.
Keep your commitments and deliver. When dealing with a difficult person ensure that you honour your commitments and that you deliver on what you say you will by the agreed deadlines. This will gain their respect and help to build a relationship with them.
If you cannot make things work then make the decision not to deal with them. Sometimes when dealing with a difficult person, even though you have tried many of the strategies above, you cannot make the relationship work. In this case it is usually better to move on and not to deal with them going forward. Dealing with a difficult person can be very draining and of no value to you. Be prepared to take a decision if need be.
When dealing with a difficult person, why not try out some of the tips above and see if they make a difference? You will probably find that they help you build a good relationship and that they are not 'a difficult person' with you any more.
Author: Liz Makin
Published: June 2008
Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.
Please call Liz on 01780 765270 or email Liz@makinithappen.co.uk
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