No matter what you do or which industry you work in, you’re going to run into your share of difficult people. They can be a challenge to deal with, but with practice and a little patience, you can work with them and possibly enjoy the challenge. Here’s how.
Understand that everyone has a bad day.
It’s not an excuse, but everyone has a rough time of it now and then. I’m sure you can think of times when you weren’t the most pleasant person to be around. Cut him or her a little slack, and try to be patient.
Imagine he or she just found out some bad news or is worried about a family member in the hospital. Not a pleasant thought, but it might help you to give him or her some space and kindness.
Don’t take it personally.
We tend to internalize negative emotions and take any perceived tone of voice or harsh words personally. Don’t do it. That person is likely having a bad day or is like that all the time, and it’s not an insult directed at you, even if it sounds or feels like one. Let it roll off your back; it will be easier to deal with that person that way.
Don’t attack, and use soft tones and language…but be firm.
That may seem a contradiction, but it isn’t. You may want to lash out when someone is difficult or unpleasant, but resist the urge. You’ll just make matters worse. Instead, soften your tone and be nice. Make sure your words are non-confrontational, but if you need to get a point across, don’t back down. Gentle firmness will work with just about anyone.
Talk about what, not whom.
Separate the topic at hand from the difficult person and address the issues in an objective manner. Speak about what, not whom, and know that this will calm the difficult person if at all possible. Know also that this calming tactic might not work.
Be grateful to the difficult person.
Yes, this can be a hard thing to do, but think about it this way—you’ve learned something from this exchange, even if it’s merely been practice in handling hard-to-please people. Look at it as a learning experience, and use it to grow.
What are your tricks for dealing with difficult or unpleasant people?