You’ve experienced it, I’ve experienced it. That moment when we have to deal with a difficult person.
Once upon a time if you would have asked me how to deal with them, I would have something wrong. Along the lines of “tell them to get over it” or “just walk away”.
But, I grew up, I entered the work force, & I had to face the facts.
And the fact is that there is a strategy for everything that we do. Including how we deal with difficult people.
Staying calm is the first step in dealing with any person in any situation.
We’ve see all the action movies, we know not to upset the already upset person.
Feelings can easily cloud your judgement.
The moment that you start to loose your cool & get emotional yourself, watch out. The other person will feed off your energy.
“You have 2 ears & 1 mouth. That’s because you need to listen more than you talk.” My Nana used to say that all the time.
As a kid, that quote was annoying but as an adult I get it.
So many situations can get diffused by just listening.
And surprisingly, all that some people want is for somebody to listen.
Repeat Their Issue
Active listening is key when dealing with difficult people.
Listen to what they’re saying then rephrase it back to them.
So it would go something like this:
- Person voices their issue
- You respond, “so what you’re saying is that you were disappointed in the way that your popcorn was put in the bag?”
That allows you to clarify their issue & often times when they hear that you heard them & are trying to understand them, their attitude will start to deflate.
Look For Help
Take a look around you & see if you see anyone who can offer assistance. If you do, make sure you tell the person “let’s see if Mike can assist you better.”
Don’t word it like “well, you’re not listening to me so I’m passing you off.”
Look For Underlying Cause
Ever had a moment where the smallest thing would send you over the edge?
I’m talking about when you drop your pen on the floor while writing your grocery list & it turns into you wanting to flip the whole table over.
Normally when that happens, it’s because of something totally unrelated.
All of our emotions get bottled up & seep out in unexpected ways.
That may be the case with your unruly person.
Don’t try to Dr. Phil them. Instead just try to understand that their may be a reason they’re being so difficult.
Ever heard the phrase “kill them with kindness”?
That applies here (minus the killing part).
Smiling & using kind words will often diffuse a situation with a difficult person before it even starts.
Offer A Solution
If you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with someone who needs a problem solved then you can offer them a solution.
Now, when I say a solution, I don’t mean solve all of their problems. Especially if you can’t.
Although you can offer a temporary solution. Something to the effect of,
“How about you let me see if I can get in touch with Mel & have him give you a call back about how we can fix this.”
“I’m not sure of how I can help you with that. However, I will see if I can find out & get back to you.”
Be sure not to back yourself into a corner. If you’re not sure that you can give them a true solution then don’t. Use vague wording like:
- I will try
- Let me see if
Even with vague wording, be honest. Don’t just brush them off by being fake. That will turn into a more difficult situation with the same person later down the road.
What Not To Say
When dealing with difficult people it’s important to watch your wording. Try not to say phrases like:
- Calm down
- Quiet down
- I understand
- Uh huh
What Not To Do
- Get angry
- Get defensive or take it personal
Remember, you can always say “please don’t talk to me that way” & keep space between you & the other person. You have to stay safe.
If you feel like the conversation is going south then be prepared to exit.
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