Here is a simple way to minimise the number of difficult people you will ever have to manage or deal with: Stop them being difficult in the first place.

Or, at least, make it more difficult for them to be difficult.

Interactions with other people can take place on two levels — business level and human level.

Almost all communication takes place on a business level, whether in your working life or your personal life.

Let me give you some examples.

Buying a bar of chocolate in a shop requires business-level communication.

You say: “I’d like a bar of fruit and nut chocolate, please.”

In the office, you might say: “Mary, please type this report and return it to me this afternoon.”

At home, you might say to your better half: “I need you to help me in the garden this weekend.”

These business-level interactions could be so much better — and minimise difficult situations — if you add a human level to them.

I would like you to think for a moment about a time when you had really exceptional customer service. Perhaps it was when you booked a holiday, dealt with a utility company or bought something in a shop or a store.

Think about it for a moment and write down what made this service so good.

When I do this exercise with a group of people, they can always tell me all the bad stories, and they often find difficulty in thinking of a positive customer service story.

People eventually come forward with examples of good service and they say things like:

•   The person who dealt with me was really kind.

•   They listened to me.

•   They made me feel important.

•   They went out of their way.

•   They were very friendly.

•   They used my name.


Occasionally, some people will say:

•   The service was fast.

•   They delivered on time.

•   The product or service did what the salesman said it would.


The first group of answers always outweighs the second group. In other words, people make decisions about the level of customer service based on the interactions they have with the people in the business. These are human-level responses.

The comments in the second group are business-level responses and are taken as a given. We expect goods or services to be delivered on time and suppliers to do what they said they would.

In a similar situation, if I ask participants in a seminar to describe a job that they enjoyed and what made it a good place to work, they rarely say things like:

•   I was well paid.

•   The working conditions were excellent .

•   We had a first-class staff restaurant.

•   I attended some great training courses.

•   I felt I had job security.


They are more likely to say:

•   My boss always listened to me.

•   He made me feel my comments had value.

•   He was firm but fair.

•   He told me when I did something well.

•   He helped me when I hadn’t done something well.

•   He told me what was happening in the company.

•   I had some great colleagues and we worked well together as a team.


All of these comments in the second list are human-level responses.

When interacting with other people, particularly difficult people, human-level responses are vitally important.

It doesn’t matter if it is face-to-face, over the phone, or by e-mail. We need to mix the human with the business elements.

People often say to me: “I don’t have time for all this nicey-nicey, touchy-feely stuff. I need to get the job done.”

My answer to this is: “If you introduce some human-level responses with the people you interact with, be they customers or staff, then you will get the job done, better and faster, with fewer mistakes and problems.”

This isn’t about being nice, it’s about meeting the human needs of every person you interact with.

Human beings are almost totally driven by their emotions.

Keep that in the forefront of your mind if you want to minimise the number of difficult people that you will ever have to deal with.


Article by Alan Fairweather, “The Motivation Doctor”. He is an international business speaker, best-selling author and sales growth expert. For details, visit Article source: