3 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

July 22, 2010 | By | 2 Comments

Difficult people are challenging for anyone. When you manage employees, this can be one of the biggest issues you have to overcome. Yet it is so critical that you do.

After all, even the best online MBA can’t always prepare a manager for working out problems with difficult employees.

Managing individuals in a team is one of the most vital activities for a manager. As you move from a role where you are actively hands-on involved in dealing with ‘things’ to organizing people, it can be a big step to handle.

Dealing with difficult people can be a test for even the most experienced of managers and those who have made it, have survived tricky situations and lived to tell the tale. Managing difficult people can be tough, but it’s much tougher not to.

Here are three simple tips to help you when you are dealing with difficult people which, in the long run, will make it much easier for you to lead a great team to success.

Be Interested

As you create relationships with those you manage and lead, the issues of difficult people are often minimized because they see that you are interested in everyone, including them.

When you ask questions and listen attentively, it’s important that you show that you are interested in what they have to say, because it reduces the possibilities that they feel you are against them.

This changes their leverage because when they don’t think you are another of those bosses that are ‘against them’, much of the sting is taken from their response. Being interested shows them that you value them and takes the sting out of them.

Be Clear in Your Own Mind

You need to work from a position of inner confidence and strength. This will give you the peace of mind to ensure that you are fully able to handle these individuals.

Dealing with difficult people can be very challenging and it’s important to be clear what you want from them as their input into the relationships that you have with them and, very importantly, those they have with others (which includes customers and other members of the team too).

Show You Want to Help

Many times, difficult people have a chip on their shoulder because of past experiences where they we treated badly. In this respect, they are the result of other people’s behaviors and are in defense mode.

Their behaviors are a lot less likely to be generous when they’ve had poor experiences from managers in the past.

So it’s important to actually let them know you want to help them, by paying full attention to their needs and, where possible and without compromising your own management position (or giving them treatment different from anyone else), you start to make a difference to them.

Dealing with difficult people is a stretch for many managers.

By showing that you are disciplined, fair and consistent in your approach to all of your people, you will find that difficult people are much easier to manage and may well become some of your best employees.

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Filed in: Employee Development, Leadership and Management, Personal Development | Tags: , , ,

Comments (2)

  1. Wise words – your post reminded me of Dov Eden’s book ‘Pygmalion in Management’. His argument is that people behave in a way consistent with how we expect them to behave, after George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (‘My Fair Lady’). “If you treat me like a flower girl, I’ll behave like a flower girl; if you treat me as a lady, I’ll behave as a lady’

    • Beautifully put Glyn. And shifting those assumptions we have of others is a big step for many managers – which is a challenge for them to accept – or not. Thanks for the posting! Martin

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