January 30, 2010

Dealing With Difficult People – General Principles

Difficult people can be found anywhere. As managers or supervisors, you are likely to have at least one you can name. It’s as common as that.

There is a general principle to use as a first step.

Most managers come across difficult people at some stage in their careers or other. They are common and challenging sometimes by their behaviors, which can be very demanding, as well as time-consuming for us all.

What is fascinating, is how many managers come across a lot, yet others seem ‘lucky’ and come across far fewer.

It’s not luck.

You see, some managers are better at dealing with difficult people than others, even though they might not always be too sure about exactly how they do it.

There is often something that triggers their character and just as often, that will provide you with detailed clues about what you can do about it.

When considering why this is, there is one simple tactic that rises above others. The managers who are best at handling difficult people, are almost always good at building relationships, which they do without much effort.

They spend time using their listening skills to pay full attention to everyone – difficult or otherwise – they come across, thereby showing them that they are interested in them. This is the first part of the simple solution to dealing with difficult people and, as such, is the key to all workplace relationships too.

After listening to the issues raised by a difficult person, these managers are also very good at asking relevant questions to show they are listening and also to help the individual find new perspectives on the situation they are being difficult about.

Once they have created this level of rapport, managers who handle difficult people well are also very good at drawing a line under proceedings and moving the difficult person right along.

It’s only by using all of these tactics, that a manager will have the best results with difficult people, and minimize the frustrations.

Indeed, some managers have been so damaged by just one difficult person in a team that they give up themselves.

All they needed was a full awareness of what is happening and the steps to take to make the problem resolved

And it’s worth bearing in mind in the organizations we work in, that there are usually two different circumstances that we come across that need slightly different twists on the simple approach above.

They are people you are with regularly – people in your life outside work even – and those you aren’t. These are people who are strangers in your business and life who you might only come across once, for example.

Both can be resolved using the tactics above quite easily, so it’s always worth taking the time to ensure that they are fully utilized.

Filed under Blog, Customer Service, Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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