One of the staff at your office is demanding you do part of her or his job without pay or credit. What do you say to them?
A patient rips your face off when you presented the bill to him? How do you handle it?
Your father constantly criticizes your work and tells you what you should do. How do you deal with him?
Difficult people are part of everyone’s life. Employers and employees can’t get along. Partners clash over money. Spouses can’t resolve disagreements.
If you ignore these situations, they get worse. Employees get fired, partnerships and marriages break up, everyone is miserable.
If you attack the person, at least you are trying to fix the problem. However, anger gives you a bad name, makes people afraid of you and prevents honest communication. So that is not a good option.
By getting organized and working out a plan of action, handling people becomes much easier. The following 7 steps can help you handle 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: “Joe is refusing to pay me despite our agreement.” “Chris drives me crazy with her continual complaining.” “Ted may be telling people that my work is inferior and I am dishonest.”
- Write down a goal for the meeting. “By the end of the meeting, I want . . .”
Examples: “Joe pays me in full.” “Chris stops complaining or leaves.” “Learn the truth about Ted’s comments and if true, get him to stop it.”
- List the points you need to make to support your goal: facts, reasons and explanations you may need the other person to understand.
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 as to how you will deal with each.
- 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 (not angrily though). Explain the specific problem you want to resolve as you noted in Step 2. Go over your first point on the list from Step 4. Listen carefully to the other person and make certain they feel understood. Hold a position on your points. Use your solutions to their reactions that you worked out in Step 5. Continue describing your points from Step 4. Keep listening to the other person’s side and look for solutions.
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 can 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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