How to Handle Difficult People
Your neighbors are constantly fighting. They wake you up in the middle of the night with their screams and curses. What do you say to them?
Your father is unhappy about your career choice. He constantly criticizes your work and points out what he thinks you should do. How do you deal with him?
Difficult situations are part of everyone’s life. Employers and employees can’t get along. Partners clash over money. Spouses cannot resolve disagreements.
If you ignore these situations, they always get worse. Employees get fired, partnerships and marriages break up, everyone is miserable.
Waiting and worrying, the most common "solution," also allows the problem to get worse while giving you stress and shortening your life span.
If you attack the person, at least you are trying to fix the problem. But attacks, rage or irrational anger gives you a bad name, makes people afraid of you and reduces honest communication.
Disconnecting from the problem or from the person is not always wise or practical. Losing employees, supporters and friends because you needlessly disassociate from them may reduce your stress, but you might also become lonely and poor.
The Best Solution Is to Confront and Handle People
When you face and resolve the problem yourself, you feel wonderful. You are in control of your life. You not only conquer the opposition, you conquer your fear. Few accomplishments are more satisfying than confronting someone who is difficult to face and handling the conflict.
How to Confront and Handle Someone
By getting organized and working out a plan of action, confronting and handling people becomes much easier. The key is your preparation.
Follow these seven steps to prepare yourself for dealing with the difficult people in your life.
- Make the decision to face up to the person directly and by yourself.
- Write down the exact problem you need to handle and your goal for the confrontation.
Examples of problems to be confronted that you might write down:
"Joe is refusing to pay me despite our agreement."
"Chris is hurting office morale and causing me stress with her continual complaining."
Once you specifically name or identify the problem, write down a goal for the meeting. "By the end of the meeting, I want . . ."
Examples of goals or objectives you might want as a result of a confrontation:
"Joe pays me in full."
"Chris stops complaining or leaves."
"Learn the truth about Bob’s comments and if true, get him to stop it."
- Write down a plan or list of points you need to make to support your goal: Facts, reasons and explanations you may need the other person to understand. List the points in order of priority or importance.
For example, to get Joe to understand why he must pay you, you might make these points:
A. Joe requested the service.
B. Joe signed an agreement to pay for the service.
C. We provided the service as promised.
D. Joe was happy with the service.
- Write down objections, reactions or disagreements the other person may have. Include everything you are afraid might happen during the meeting. Putting specific concerns and fears in writing reduces their impact on you.
For each objection, reaction or disagreement you expect will happen, write a solution of how you will deal with each.
- Organize your notes and gather supportive documents.
- Arrange the meeting where you will not be disturbed, preferably in a space you control.
- Start the meeting.
Look the person directly in the eye.
Explain the specific problem you want to resolve as you noted in Step 2.
Go over your first point on the list from Step 3.
Listen carefully to the other person and make certain they feel understood.
Hold a position on your points.
Use your solutions to their reactions as you worked out in Step 4.
Continue describing your points and listening to the person's side.
Do not give up. Communicate and persist for as long as it takes to reach your goal.
The more frequently you confront and handle difficult people, the easier it becomes. The amount of time it takes to prepare for a confrontation decreases. You become strong and tough.
When you confront and handle everyone around you, people respect you for your courage, your honesty and your control. Your associates, employees or coworkers follow your example and become more productive. Your enemies either become harmless or become friends.
Taking positive organized action, despite fear, is the kind of courage all successful people must have to succeed.
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