Difficult People

By Bill Hodges

©2003 Hodges Seminars International

It would be Pollyannaish of me to try and tell you that there are no difficult people in this world, but I do believe too many books have been written about the art of dealing with them. There is no question that I believe the study of human nature is important for anyone who must deal with the public.

However, we prejudice our research and the conclusions we reach when we start out with the premise that we are learning how to deal with "difficult" people. Other people, for the most part, are no different than we are.

Instead of labeling them as difficult and setting up a barrier, why not try to understand where they are coming from and make allowances for their differences. Here are some of the ways to work with those people with whom you feel conflict.

1. Be like a duck ó let some things slide. Just as a duck sheds water without getting wet, you can do the same thing with disagreeable comments. Donít rise to the bait. Let the comment go unchallenged. Many conflicts can be avoided when we just refuse to fight.

2. Be patient. Timing is everything. In dealing with others, we may have to bide our time until we have an appropriate opportunity to press our case. In any conversation, be sure that you have the other partyís full attention and that competing distractions are not going to be an aggravating factor.

3. Look for common ground. When we find someone who is pulling against us or at least appears to be doing so, most of us will concentrate on our differences rather than our similarities. When faced with that type of situation, look for things you can both agree on and you may find that your goal is the same. Only the methods you are using to achieve it are different. In any case, by focusing on areas of agreement, you will improve the working atmosphere.

4. They canít be doing everything wrong. When we are in a conflict with others, we tend to defensively think of everything they do and say as wrong. Do not hesitate to compliment others when they do something right.

There is nothing more challenging than dealing with other human beings. The more cowardly among us do less dangerous and more solitary things like climbing mountains, sky diving, and bull fighting. However, the rewards are great for those who learn to deal successfully with others. John D. Rockefeller, the American industrialist and philanthropist, said, "The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee. And I pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun." It seems that our challenge is not how to deal with so-called difficult people, but rather simply to learn how to keep them from becoming difficult in the first place. If we can do that, we always will be in demand.

Bill Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.

Web site: http://www.BillHodges.com

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