A ‘difficult person’ might oppose ideas, be irritating,
appear negative or simply not like other people.
When it comes to communicating and working with
a person who is particularly difficult, we often resort
to one of three assumptions:,/p>
But typically, no one wakes up in the morning
thinking ‘I really want to irritate everyone I meet
today’ and goes about their day with this goal in
mind. The reality is difficult people are often not
being difficult on purpose.
A key driving factor behind relationship breakdowns
is perception; one party either has a different view of
the situation or wants something different.
Therefore, when a person is being ‘difficult’ the first
thing to try and do is to look at the situation from
their perspective. If you can get your head around
how the other person views the situation, this will
help guide your approach when communicating with
It is also important to be
people cannot be
controlled, they can be
influenced so it is
essential that you keep
in mind what it is that you
want to achieve. The
following six tactics are recommended to help manage a difficult person:
start with what you agree on
consider what you can learn; what might you be
outline what you want from the conversation
stick to topic
wait to respond
silence is golden; do not just talk to fill space
Actively trying to manage challenging people, taking
into account their views and position, can help
alleviate or prevent moments of tension and
misunderstanding. With a bit of work, difficult people
can become more bearable and the outcome for you
can be improved.
Conflict can often trigger defensive emotions but it is
important to react in a manner that does not
separate you from the situation. Self-management
techniques such as focusing on breathing, listening
attentively, preparing for bad and unexpected
outcomes, and stepping back to adopt a long-term
view can help you react in a constructive way.
People who irritate us can often show us something
about ourselves. Taking the time to consider our
own behaviour in strained situations may reveal
personal deficits that contributed to the difficulties.
Delving into the root cause of the frustration can
help to resolve the problem. In fact, you yourself
may be the difficult one.