Just think of driving a car. You have to use controls to drive you straight when you are driving. Mainly, you use steering wheel, accelerator & breaks. There are other facilities like horn, signals, rear view mirror etc. When you are dealing with difficult people, you have to follow 3 critical steps. These are: i) stay calm ii) find help and iii) debrief.
- In heavy traffic you tend to lose your cool. Likewise, with a difficult person you have a tendency to become impatient. Don’t do that. Stay calm.
- You may try to find help. Someone who you think can guide you or act as a mediator to avoid confrontations.
- In the complex life today, it’s prudent to have a mentor. A mentor has no conflicting interests with you. All he looks for is helping you. After you have faced the difficult person with whatever results, it is useful to discuss the entire situation with your mentor.
Don’t treat your opponent as your enemy. Respect his/her dignity and the results will be good. And for that just do the following:
- Listen attentively. Let them talk and you should just listen. Often the opponents will not open their cards but when you listen attentively you may be able to discover the hidden agenda which will help you to deal with him/her. Besides, people want to be listened to. They want to talk.
- Don’t hurt their dignity. Respect their ego. When you don’t respect you opponent the situation will only go from bad to worse. This needs to be avoided so that there is no escalation of the problem.
- Don’t judge people. Try to understand than before forming you opinion about them. When you have already formed an opinion, there are chances that you will not try discovering the hidden need of the opponent. Therefore keep your mind open and do not judge.
- When the tempers run high allow opponent to calm down. Your help will soften his stubborn intentions to some extent. Besides, you cannot discuss, much less negotiate, when the tempers run high.
Respect Nature which has made all human beings individuals No two people are alike; not in their physical attributes but much less in their mental makeup. Thus, it would be a sheer folly to assume a particular method to deal with one difficult person will also work when we are dealing with another. Just like one size does not fit all, one type of response will not solve problem with another. We need to contemplate solution after clearly understanding the situation and the concerned person.
Tit for tat was an old school story. Leave it behind. It doesn’t work anymore. Times have changes dramatically and now these are changing faster than ever. So every situation needs a specific strategy suited to the occasion. Don’t return anger with anger. Intimidation is freely used and abused. More importantly if you lose your cool, you will not be able to use tact to your advantage.
Further, you must not try to justify your actions and act defensively. This may only aggravate the problem. Acting defensively will make you weaker. The best strategy is let the opponent puff out their steam. Better sense will prevail sooner than later.
Lastly don’t ever try to win an argument. As they say when you win an argument, you lose a friend.
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Each person is an individual. The way they are, think, act or react are also different. So they are bound to be. Often times we perceive certain people as difficult even though they may not be if we try to understand them closely. In any case there are indeed some difficult people. We have to deal with them, nevertheless. We cannot avoid them in society, family and/or work place.
It is necessary to form a strategy of dealing with difficult people who are important to us. The critical steps are
- To specify what we want to achieve.
- Which means could be best to achieve the objective.
- To understand them (difficult people) dispassionately
- To try to get in to their shoes to evaluate the situation from their perspective
- What they perceive about you and what could be their objective in your relationship.
Once you have reviewed the above, the next logical step is to reassess the situation. And review your actions. Take time to do it. In meetings, listen to them closely. Make them realize that you are assimilating their concern not because you have to but also because you like to. This will change the way difficult people look at you and your disposition. Your task becomes easier.
Further, during the meeting ask most relevant questions and briefly. It’s necessary to control your modulation during these conversations. You need to make your interaction informal, interesting and earnest. Listen to their response to your questions intently. Assess their response and think through your own response. And then be prepared to meet them again.
Difficult people are not so difficult, after all.
Thanks for reading.