- Don’t let them get to you – Stay out of it emotionally and concentrate on listening non-defensively and actively. People may make disparaging and emotional remarks – don’t rise to the bait. Stay cool; think, don’t react.
- Listen – Look and sound like you’re listening. The other person wants to know that you care and that you’re interested in them and their situation.
- See it from their point of view – You may not agree with whatever it is that is making them difficult. You may think – ‘What’s the big deal?’ It is a big deal for them and they want you to appreciate it.
- Be aware of your body language and tone of voice – We often exacerbate a situation without realising it. Our tone of voice and body language can contradict what we’re saying. People will set greater credence on how you say something rather than what you say. It’s also important to use a warm tone of voice when managing a difficult person. This doesn’t mean being nicey-nicey or behaving in a non-assertive manner.
- Words to avoid – There are certain trigger words that can cause people to become more difficult, especially in emotionally charged situations. Avoid the words – ‘calm down’ – ‘you’ll have to’ – ‘I can’t’ or ‘you can’t’ – ‘I need you to’ – ‘I’ll try’
- Stop saying sorry – Sorry is an overused word, everyone says it when things go wrong and it’s lost its value; avoid it when you can.
- How often have you heard – ‘Sorry about that, don’t worry it’ll all get it sorted.’ Far better to say ‘I apologise for ……’ And if you really need to use the sorry word, make sure to include it as part of a full sentence.
- Choose to be assertive – Assertiveness tends to be learned behavior. It’s not about being passive or aggressive. It’s about being clear and direct in what you say. Stating your needs and feelings in a straightforward way and standing up for your rights without violating the rights of the other person. Learn some assertiveness techniques and use them in a positive way.
- Acknowledge – A human’s need for acknowledgement is so strong, that they’ll sometime behave badly just to get that acknowledgement. It can be physical or Psychological; withdrawing or failing to provide acknowledgement will cause people to become difficult.
Remember, everyone gets a little mad from time to time and you won’t always be able to placate everyone; there is no magic formula. The majority of people in this world are reasonable people and if you treat them as such, then they’re more likely to respond in a positive manner.
And if non of this works; buy my book, How to Manage Difficult People, and use it to smack the offending person round the head!
- 14 Steps to Deal with Employee Concerns (managedifficultpeople.com)