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​How can I Handle Difficult People?

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Posted 29 October 2013 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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These can be tailored to your specific needs.
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You may find the following will help with the training of your team leaders and managers.

How can I handle difficult people?

All leaders have to gain the cooperative effort of other people. They need people to work together as a team. If the team cannot do that, then the team will fail and so will the leader.

The problem is this: other people can be difficult. They don't always do what you want them to do. They say things that you don't want them to say. And they don't take kindly to criticism. And many people don't see the need to change, nor want to change.

But you do need some people to change their behaviour and their language. So you need to be able to handle difficult people and gain their cooperative assistance.

How are you going to handle difficult people?

Here are a list of do's and don'ts

1. Don't argue for entertainment value.

Some people like to argue just for the fun of it. They are combative by nature. Others are non-combative by nature. You should strive to be part of the second group. Don't argue with argumentative people unless you have to.

2. If you do have to conflict with someone, then first get your facts straight.

Remember that you must argue from a strong factual base. That means, you should not guess. You should not go into the conflict situation armed with only second hand evidence.

If you only "think" the other person has done something wrong, then that is insufficient. You must know for a fact, what the facts are. Otherwise you may come unstuck if you accuse somebody of doing something with insufficient evidence to justify the assertion.

Always get the facts straight before you speak.

3. When you have the facts straight, then lay your cards on the table and tell the other person what he has done wrong.

Make the statement in clear, factual terms. Don't add any negative opinions and don't add any negative feelings. For example: you might start by saying something like:
"You were late for the last two meetings".

4. The next step is to ask him to for a new behaviour.

Make the request a polite request for a new specific behaviour that is reasonable under the circumstances.

For example: "You were late for the last two meetings. Would you please make sure you are on time for the next meeting?"

5. The next step is to listen to their response. They will either agree with your request or not.
If they agree with the request, then say, "Thank you very much. I appreciate it".

6. If they don't agree with your request, (in our example, to be on time), then you might ask "Why not?

7. When they answer, you should decide whether their response is a reason for not complying with your request or simply an excuse.

8. If it is a reason then give ground and find a compromise solution.

9. If it is an excuse then don't give ground and don't compromise. Don't compromise and give ground to those people who offer you only excuses.

10. Distinguish in your mind what differentiates and excuse for not doing something from a reason for not doing something.

11. Press on and keep going until you get either a commitment to change or a reason why they cannot change. But don't give in to people who only are giving you feeble excuses.

12. When the person does show any sign of a change, (improvement) in their behaviour, then immediately on the point of change, give that person some kind of positive praise and reinforcement. The phrase I suggest is, "Thank you very much. I appreciate it".

13. Make praise and appreciation a verbal habit for you. Remember that the lack of appreciation is often the cause of a conflict.

If you want to get better results with difficult people please memorise these points and apply them.

Thank you very much. (I appreciate it!).

Conflict Management

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Conflict is inevitable, because people disagree. Therefore, you must be able to handle conflict situations effectively. You must know how to be assertive, clear and professional (not emotional, upset and angry) whilst in conflict. If you want to learn more on how to achieve this, please click here to see our conflict management training.

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