I recently had to do some reading on “How to deal with difficult people” and when I googled the term, the following articles appeared on the first page. I don't know about you, but when I'm trying to find something I usually end up with about 18 tabs open at once. I am hoping that this summary saves you a little bit of tab-surfing effort. You will find each article's title, author, link and main points included in the text below. I edited out most of their content, to give you an idea of the big picture. To get the detail, simply follow the link to the original post. This blog-post is not intended to have scientific or academic integrity but rather summarise some popular viewpoints about the topic of dealing with difficult people.
Forbes: 8 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People
Kevin Kruse highlights the following points: Link to article
- Don’t get dragged down
- Use a time limit for venting
- Don’t agree
- Don’t stay silent
- Do switch extremes into facts
- Move to problem solving
- Cut them off
Psychology Today: Dealing with Difficult People
Nando Pelusi shares these tips: Link to article
- Ask the antagonist what exactly he/she is upset about.
- Agree with a kernel of truth in the complaint.
- Defend without a defensive tone
- Offer to the difficult person your best guess as to what he or she is feeling, and ask for feedback.
- Resist the urge to fight to win the argument. Listen and ask questions.
Wikihow: How to Deal With Difficult People
Wikihow articles are typically edited by a range of people. Here are the main points: Link to article
- Focus on what you can control. If you’re confronted with a difficult person, remember that if you can’t change them, you can at least change how you react and perceive them.
- Look at your own behavior
- Try to become more aware of your own perception of others.
- Choose your battles wisely.
- Pause for a moment and breathe.
- “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”
- Talk to your peers about it.
- Make sure to use “I” sentences. Keeping the conversation focused on your experience will make it seem less accusatory.
- Talk to your superiors.
- Never curse. Cursing will only make the other person angry and even worse, make you look like you’ve lost control.
About.com: How to Deal With Difficult People at Work
Susan M. Heathfield writes: Link to article
- Start out by examining yourself.
- Explore what you are experiencing with a trusted friend or colleague.
- Approach the person with whom you are having the problem for a private discussion.
- Be pleasant and agreeable as you talk with the other person. They may not be aware of the impact of their words or actions on you.
- Follow up after the initial discussion. Has the behavior changed? Gotten better? Or worse? Determine whether a follow-up discussion is needed.
- You can confront your difficult coworker’s behavior publicly. Deal with the person with gentle humor or slight sarcasm.
Oprah.com: How to Deal with Difficult People
Deepak Chopra writes: Link to article
- First, take responsibility for your part of the interaction.
- Next, try to name what specifically causes the difficulty. Is the person clinging, controlling, competitive?
- Clinging types want to be taken care of and loved. They feel weak and are attracted to stronger people. If desperate, they will cling to anyone.
- Controlling types have to be right. There is always an excuse for their behavior (however brutal) and always a reason to blame others. Controlling people are perfectionists and micro-managers. Their capacity to criticize others is endless.
- Competitive types have to win. They see all encounters, no matter how trivial, as a contest. Until they win, they won't let go.
The Harvard Business Review: The Secret to Dealing With Difficult People: It's About You
Tony Schwartz shares the following: Link to article (Note: You have to register on their website to access the articles. The free plan lets you access 3 articles per month. I can highly recommend their content.) The painful truth when it comes to the people who trigger you is this: You’re not going to change them. The only person you have the possibility of changing is yourself. Each of us has a default lens through which we see the world. We call it reality, but in fact it’s a selective filter. We have the power, to view the world through other lenses. There are three worth trying on when you find yourself defaulting to negative emotions.
- The Lens of Realistic Optimism:
“What are the facts in this situation?”
“What’s the story I’m telling myself about those facts?”
- The Reverse Lens:
“What is this person feeling, and in what ways does that make sense?”
“Where’s my responsibility in all this?”
- The Long Lens:
“Regardless of how I feel about what’s happening right now, how can I grow and learn from this experience?”
Dumblittleman: 9 Useful Strategies to Dealing with Difficult People at Work
Celestine Chua shares the following tips: Link to article
- Be calm.
- Understand the person's intentions.
- Get some perspective from others.
- Let the person know where you are coming from.
- Build rapport.
- Treat the person with respect.
- Focus on what can be actioned upon.
- If all else fails ignore.
- Escalate to a higher authority for resolution.
Techrepublic: 10 tips for dealing with difficult people
Calvin Sun writes: Link to article
- Try not to take things personally.
- Ask questions rather than make statements.
- Have supporting evidence in writing.
- Ensure understanding and communication.
- Use appropriate phrases when needed.
- Use "I" rather than "you ".
- Separate the issue from the person.
- Be assertive rather than obnoxious.
- Turn the tables.
- Express appreciation when appropriate.