5 Useful Strategies for Dealing with Difficult People

Whether you manage a floor of employees for a large company or you work with varying personalities for your own business, chances are you will run into someone who is difficult to deal with.

You are probably picturing that person right now…  The employee that comes in late, turns in half-done work, and has the nerve to complain about pay.   Or maybe you’re thinking of the customer that is never satisfied and tries to coerce you down from your prices on every sale.

Whoever you have in mind, these 5 strategies will help equip you with the right armor to create function-able relationships with even the hardest to work with people.

For purposes of example only, let’s give this difficult person the nickname of “Sunshine” (because when they leave the room, the sun starts to shine again!).  Try picturing your Sunshine as they are mentioned through out this article.  Let’s begin:

Strategy 1.  Don’t take Sunshine’s behavior personally.

O.K., here comes Sunshine again and they are on a roll.  They haven’t stopped their rant for the past 3 minutes and you have had about enough!  Your temperature is rising and you are about to let them have it!

Before you do, just remember to remain calm.  Sunshine is just acting the way they always do.  There’s nothing new about their behavior here.  It is important that you remember not to take their behavior personally.  Chances are, Sunshine has this effect on everyone they encounter, and you are no exception.

Maintain your composure and try ignoring Sunshine’s personal attacks.  Key in on the facts of their argument so that you may offer a valuable solution.  Then, in as calm of a demeanor that you can maintain, factually give them the answer to their problem.  You may notice that as you maintain your calm demeanor, Sunshine may start to get a hold of them self as well.  Don’t let Sunshine get to you or bring you down to his/her level.

Strategy 2.  Treat Sunshine with Respect

Plain and simple… No one likes to be disrespected.   If you decide to try and make Sunshine feel inferior, stupid or incompetent, its not going to go over well.  Make sure that you maintain a respectful demeanor when speaking with Sunshine.  Your comments will always be received better if a respectful tone is used.

Strategy 3. Try to See the Best In Sunshine

While this is one of the strategies that is definitely easier said than done, noticing the positive qualities in your friend Sunshine is a plus.  You may find that your viewpoint of Sunshine may change altogether.    Or perhaps you are right, Sunshine is just a negative person- but maybe has some valid viewpoints that can stand to be addressed.  Whatever the case, try to find something positive about your special friend, and you will find that you may be able to endure your time with them a little longer.

Strategy 4.  Acknowledge any positive changes in Sunshine- Immediately!

Even if it is the most minute, miniscule thing you can possibly think of, if it is positive, acknowledge it!  Let Sunshine know that you see a change for the better, and that you are impressed.  Not only will Sunshine feel a surge of confidence, but the ego stroke will definitely make your world a little less stressful.  Especially if your work environment is usually filled with critique, a little compliment can go a long way.- even for good ole’ Sunshine!

Strategy 5.  Kill’em with Kindness!

The fact is that people usually react to what they are given.  If you are given a mean evil attitude, then you’re instinct is to give it back.  So the next time Sunshine waltz’s in your face in his/her usual manner, try putting on a smile (not a smirk-but an actual heartfelt smile) and calmly addressing the issue.  You pal Sunshine will do one of  two things: 1. Change his/her demeanor and become a more calm, reasonable person to deal with or 2. Act really weird-ed out by your unusually friendly behavior and walk away looking confused.  Let’s face it, either way it’s a good thing, and Sunshine isn’t a problem for you anymore.

It’s like my grandmother always said- you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so why not be sweet.  It’s an oldy, but goodie!

Dealing with difficult people is never a cut and dry scenario, but hopefully you can put these 5 strategies to use at some point or another.  It has always been my opinion that we learn most from others, so please post your view points or suggestions.  What do you think is a good strategy for dealing with the “Sunshine” in your world?

Photo Credit: Danilo Rizzuti

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