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Handling Difficult People

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Posted 26 September 2011 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with the training of your team leaders and managers.

Handling difficult people

Some of your managers are not very good at handling difficult people.
Sometimes they mismanage the situation and make matters even worse.

You need to be able to handle difficult people correctly.

But how?

Here are some tips:

There are three fundamental ways for people to be "difficult":

  1. Some people don't stick to the rules
  2. Some people are bad: i.e. dishonest, lazy and disruptive
  3. People have good character but have an abrasive communication style

Let us deal with each one in turn:

1. The people who don't stick to the rules

Here are the steps:

1. Check they know the rules.

Has the rule been communicated to the difficult person, with sufficient clarity?
If no, then communicate the rule with greater clarity.
If yes, if the rule has been properly communicated: then ask the person to comply with the rule, or give a good reason why he can't.

Distinguish between reasons for not complying and excuses for not complying

If the person gives a valid reason for not complying, then give ground; compromise and find a middle ground solution.
If the person does not give a proper reason, (they give you an excuse) then tell her that there will be sanctions for not complying.

Then, leave her to simmer for two days.
If they still do not comply, then see below....

2. Some people are bad: dishonest, lazy and disruptive

If the person knows the rule, has no reason for not complying with the rule, but won't stick to the rule, then do the following.
Ask yourself: is the rule itself, a good rule?

If it is not, then remove the rule.
If the rule is a good rule, then decide whether this issue is worth fighting over.
If not, then ignore the issue.
If yes, this is worth fighting over, then you should speak to the person again:

First, think back and make a written list detailing all the instances and examples of when he has broken the rule.
When the timing is right, sit the chap down and run through the list, detailing all the instances of when he broke the rule.
Then ask him if he can see the purpose for the rule.

Ask him what the consequences would be, to the organisation, if everyone broke the same rule, in the same way he does.
Ask him one more time to change his behaviour.
Leave him to think it over

If he does change, good job!
If he does not change, then strongly consider taking your organisational sanctions against him.

3. People have good character but have an abrasive communication style

Some people are fine, in action, but they upset people with the way they talk.

Pinpoint the exact nature of the problem:

  1. Does this person swear too much?
  2. Is the person argumentative?
  3. Is the person too pessimistic?

Find at least four instances of the behaviour and write them down.

When the time is right, tell the person what they are doing wrong and name the four instances as examples.

Ask them to change to the opposite

  1. If the person swears, then ask them to use polite language
  2. If the person is argumentative, then ask them to argue only for the important issues, and not to argue for entertainment value
  3. If the person is pessimistic, then ask him to think about plans that would make things better

Warning
You will have to repeat this process many times (about 7- 10 times), before it has an effect.

Handling difficult people is a process of conditioning that takes persistence, on your part.

Don't give in. Keep going until he decides it's easier for HIM to change.

For more information about handling difficult people visit the Corporate Coach Group website

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