Posted in leadership, team

Dealing With Difficult People


 1. Decide whether it is worth it

Is it worth dealing with the person?

If yes, continue.

 2. Observe and prepare

Observe the person for about a week.

Note patterns and trends.

Don’t judge; just observe and treat as a scientific experiment

 3. Initiate the confrontation and announce its importance to you.

Pick a time and place where the person can save face.

Do not attack, discount, or demean.

Do not begin stating your position or your desired solution.

State that you believe you two have not always worked well together and that it is important to you to have a better working relationship.

Then ask the person if you two can sit down and brainstorm different ways the two of you could work better together.

Be brief and then be quiet as you wait for a response.

4. Use your descriptive listening skills.

Whatever the person says, repeat it back in the person’s words in a non-mocking tone, which gives the person respect and attention.

Take the high road and demonstrate respect.

5. Ask clarifying questions and repeat your request to jointly identify no fewer than 3 options to improve the way you can work together.

Emphasize that you don’t want to place blame just to discover ways to work together.

Do not argue about value differences.

Be patient.

Difficult problems do not have a perfect solution; be prepared to agree to an imperfect solution.

 6. Do not chase or badger.

Ask the person if s/he is available at a certain time. If yes, meet at that time. If the person walks away, stop by at the time mentioned to see if the person is available. If not, see below.

7. When all else fails, state your goals and your willingness to negotiate how they will be attained.

Be clear on what you want as an outcome.

Ask if further explanations are required.

Be assertive but not aggressive.

State the consequences of not accomplishing the goal; do not threaten but speak clearly.

Follow through consistently; but do not nag.

Follow through on anything you say; never bluff on consequences.

 From Tools for Team Leadership: Delivering the X-Factor in Team eXcellence by Gregory E. Huszczo



Dr. Sheila Embry is a govie, author, pracademician, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend who loves to read, write, think, and laugh. Many of her blog postings are summaries or excerpts of books that she read and wants to share to encourage others. An author with more than 25 years experience within the legislative and executive branches of the U. S. federal government holding 3 accredited degrees: Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, Master of Arts in Human Resources Development, and Baccalaureate of Business Administration, she believes in continuing learning both on and off the job. She has been recognized with multiple professional and writing awards for her peer-reviewed, publications. Click the bibliography page above for a listing of all the publications.

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