…or people – who fills you with so much frustration want to pull your hair out – and, unfortunately, sometimes you even have to work with them.
I’ve encountered more than my fair share of difficult people – those who don’t get their work done as promised, have crappy attitudes, don’t show up for meetings, stick vehemently to their views, push back on responsibilities, refuse to collaborate – and on and on. Sound familiar yet? Keep reading.
Also, as I run my own business, I depend on collaboration for many projects, and there are definitely times when I feel stuck because everyone is so firm in their views it’s impossible to get a consensus about anything. (Kinda sounds like our world in general, doesn’t it?)
I used to get pissed off when I had to deal with these people.
After a while though, I learned that there’s no way to avoid difficult people – and if you refuse to work with them, you may not be working at all. That’s because, in the long run, it’s probably more difficult to avoid or hide from someone than it is to figure out how to work with them.
So rather than quit your job every time you encounter a frustrating person, why not equip yourself with the skills you need to deal with them?
Listen! Listening is the best and most effective way to deal with “unreasonable” people. Everyone wants to feel heard, and I’ve found you can’t make progress until the other person feels acknowledged. While you’re listening, really focus on what the person is saying – not what you want to say next. If, however, after all your efforts, you deem the situation to be hopelessly negative, you may need to cut them off. Then it’s time to switch to problem solving.
Be calm. Nothing diffuses a difficult situation better than staying calm. Don’t return anger with anger. Raising your voice, pointing your finger or speaking disrespectfully to another person will only fuel an already heated situation. Use a low, calm, even monotone voice. Don’t try to talk over the person. Wait until they take a breath, then take your turn to speak. Someone who is calm is seen as centered, respectable and in control. Strangely enough, when this person sees that you are calm despite whatever he or she is doing, that’s when you’ll start to get their attention.
Treat everyone with respect. No one likes to be treated as if he or she is stupid/incapable/incompetent (fill in the negative attribute here). The golden rule still holds fast for adults: if you’re going to treat someone with disrespect, don’t be surprised if he or she treats you the same way.