Dealing with Difficult People

Some people are just difficult to deal with. But difficult need not mean impossible. Sometimes, all it takes is a little understanding and strategic communication.

  • The dictator. This is someone who bullies and constantly demands. Deal with a dictator by responding to his or her tirades in a calming and disarming way. Change your method of communication - from phone to email or memo, for example.

  • The know-it-all. An expert who has an opinion on everything. But when to be found in error s/he will pass the buck. Know-it-all invariably enjoy making people feel insecure - therefore, you must affirm your self-confidence. Limit your responses and offer other considerations without necessarily totally disagreeing with a point of view.
  • The yes person. This person will promise any deadline, but rarely delivers. S/he may be charming, but lacks any real credibility. Have them state a deadline and then point out a list of possible obstacles that may hinder the time scale.
  • The wet blanket. The opposite of the yes person, the wet blanket is forever talking about why things don’t work. Negative and pessimistic, s/he is resistant to change. Pin them down to facts. Success in dealing with them means moving from emotion to fact.

  • The passive. The passive never lets you know where s/he stands by avoiding controversy at all costs and never offering ideas or opinions. Ask open-ended questions that initiate conversation. Reassure that it’s acceptable to disagree.

Dealing with difficult people is never easy!