YESTERDAY’S article addressed the questions of what we mean by a “difficult” person and why people are sometimes difficult. It also identified poor communication as a root cause of conflict.

Today’s article discusses — by posing questions and offering answers — how you can manage “difficult” behaviour effectively.

Do you change yourself or change the difficult person?

It has to be said — you are not going to change the person until you change yourself. It is not about changing your personality; it is about making adjustments to your behaviour, which will make your life much easier.

Develop an understanding of your own and other people’s behaviour. You need to take charge of your behaviour — improve your listening skills, be aware of the impact of your tone of voice and body language, and be more assertive.

How do you assert yourself?

Assertive communication can make all the difference to your personal success and your ability to manage difficult people. It is more than just learning to talk in a different way; it is about thinking positively, feeling confident and behaving assertively.

To develop your assertiveness, you don’t have to change your personality, only your behaviour and thoughts. In assertiveness training, we talk about submissive, aggressive and assertive behaviour.

Submissive and aggressive behaviour relate to your inbuilt fight or flight programmes that rescue you from problem situations.

Communication aid

Assertive behaviour will help you communicate clearly and confidently your needs, wants and feelings to other people without abusing in any way their human rights.

It is more positive, it will produce better results when managing a difficult person, and it can be learnt. It is worth studying the “Broken Record” and “Negative Assertion” techniques.

“Broken Record” is the skill of being able to repeat over and over again in a calm relaxed and assertive way whatever it is you want or need. This continues until the other person concedes or agrees to negotiate with you.

The “Negative Assertion” technique is used primarily to deal with criticism from a difficult person. This is where you calmly agree with the true criticism of your negative qualities.

Using these techniques will make your life so much easier when dealing with a difficult person.

Are there other particular techniques you can use?

If you are faced with someone who is emotionally charged up, then you first have to manage these emotions before you can deal with the problem.

In other words, deal with his feelings, and then deal with his problem. You interact on a human level to deal with the feelings, and a business level to deal with the problem.

Human level responses include: being warm and friendly, focusing on the other person, listening actively, using the person’s name appropriately and being flexible.

When dealing with a difficult colleague, you could ignore his behaviour, you could reprimand him or you could coach.

Coaching is the best option. Find out the cause of the difficult behaviour, and discuss with the colleague how to put it right. If you do it well, you will have a happier colleague who performs positively and doesn’t give you a hard time.

Looking for the positive is another way to manage a colleague who is being difficult or negative. Try concentrating on what he does well and tell him about it. Look for something positive in what he does, no matter how trivial.

No need to be difficult

How do you prevent people from being difficult in the first place?

When you communicate with another person, it is important to remember that human beings are almost totally driven by their emotions. It therefore makes sense to communicate on both a human and business level when dealing with another person.

This is about all the simple things, like using his name, being warm and friendly, listening and showing you are listening.

It is also important not to get “hooked” by the other person’s difficult behaviour. Stay out of it emotionally and don’t rise to the bait.

Be aware that the other person may not see a situation the way you see it. He sees the world differently from you and believes that what he says, how he behaves and his expectations are all acceptable. Empathise with his viewpoint and offer solutions that ensure a win-win outcome.

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