Dealing with difficult people is about staying in control of yourself, of the situation and the conversation. Sometimes you have to brave it out. This doesn’t mean fighting back but it may mean waiting until they have vent their spleen. Here are a few ideas on how you can deal with difficult people.
Listen – people like to talk about themselves so let them have their say. By listening you are creating an opportunity for that person to release pent up feelings. The trick is to know when to say stop, now I have listened and it is time to move on.
Build empathy – empathy is about being able to respect each others different points of view. You have opened up the communications channels. You do not have to sympathise with someone to build understanding about someone else’s position.
Build rapport – by listening you have started the process. It enables you to find the points of connection and build on those to create a good working relationship.
Be patient – difficult people are not always the loud ones. Sometimes quiet people can be just as difficult to deal with. They may come across as shy, sullen, uncommunicative etc. Give them the opportunity to overcome their reluctance to communicate in a non-threatening environment.
Stay in adult – if someone is acting in a childish way, don’t react by becoming childish as well. Stay in adult mode and wait for them to catch you up. Remember how frustrating toddlers are to deal with. Give them some space to work things out for themselves.
Bring them back to the point – the difficulty may be someone who likes to talk too much. Each time they go off the subject bring them gently but firmly back to the matter in hand.
Watch your language – you can’t always understand someone else’s feeling, but you can accept that they have the right to have them. Avoid “I understand how you feel…” and substitute “I understand that you are feeling…” Always comment on the behaviour not the person.