December 19, 2014

How to Effectively Deal With Difficult People

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Personal Branding Blog

how to deal with difficult people

It happens to everyone. You have a colleague at work who wants things his way or the highway. Or you have a client who’s never happy. There is no escaping difficult people at work or in business. More challenging still is the fact that you’re not likely to say or do anything to make them change. All you can do is be professional and follow these steps to dealing with difficult people.

Keep Calm

It’s a challenge not to get upset, annoyed, frustrated or angry at difficult people, but doing so doesn’t change anything. It won’t make them be less difficult or you feel less negative. In fact, allowing your negative feelings full reign makes it difficult to problem solve and stay rational. The only option to avoid escalating the difficult person’s behavior is to remain calm. Deep breaths and self-talk are the best ways to prevent negative feelings from taking over.

Be Respectful

While difficult people may not have earned respect, you’ll do much better dealing with them if you show it. There is a saying that you can attract more people with sugar than vinegar, and it’s true. Responding to difficult people with negativity only makes it easier for them to dismiss you. Showing respect can sometimes diffuse conflict and open the conversation up to negotiation. You can show respect by listening and reflecting. Listening to rants or complaints and then reflecting back what was said, you show respect and allow the difficult person to feel heard.

Be Professional

Showing respect doesn’t mean you have to agree with or give in to the difficult person. You can share your thoughts and ideas as well. Hopefully, if you’ve shown respect, the difficult person will have an open mind to hear your views as well. You can increase this chance by expressing your ideas in a professional manner. Avoid showing frustration or annoyance as you respond to the person. After reflecting what you heard, stay calm as you share your thoughts or feelings on the subject.

Focus on the Work/Solution

Difficult people often use personal verbal attacks on you or other people to drive their point across. Avoid getting drawn in to the drama and angst of office politics by focusing on the work or how to solve the problem at hand.

Live Your Brand

Your personal brand is created through your action. At no time is your brand best present than in challenging times and dealing with difficult people. Remember what you want your brand to be and how you want your colleagues or customers to think of you. While the difficult person may never recognize your value, others who are involved or watching from the outside will.

Angry Photo via Shutterstock

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Personal Branding Blog The Personal Branding Blog is part of the Small Business Trends Publisher Channel, offering branding and career advice from Dan Schawbel and his team of experts. The blog helps professionals build a powerful brand to remain competitive in the job market.

5 Reactions

  1. There will always be some difficult people. But I found that the best way to work with them is simply to see what they need and don’t react automatically to them. Once they feel understood, they are quick to calm down and they may even warm up to you.

  2. I worked in customer service for a good while. Some people do and will take their frustrations out on you. Keeping calm can help – telling yourself to do so and remaining centered – trying not to take it personally.

  3. Compromises are the best option with a person that you think is difficult. Furthermore, Consider his/her perspective, understand his/her behaviour, keep calm and go politely can be good practices for difficult peoples.

  4. Something that I have become popular among my colleauges is the quote, “Get the right people on the bus and get the wrong people off the bus.” It was a quote that I thought of when I was actually riding the bus to work. A lot of people at my company really have got behind the quote in their hiring and staffing practices. If difficult people do not fit your culture, then do not hire them and get rid of them. That is the logic behind “Get the right people on the bus and get the wrong people off the bus.”

  5. Difficult people often just have problems and those problems are just needed to be understood and that’s what this post is about. This is a great guide to those who are short tempered against difficult people and you will never know there is a possibility that that person is your next biggest asset.

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