Dealing with difficult people


People you deal with don’t always operate in the same way you do. What happens when you deal with aggressive, passive aggressive or just downright difficult people?

I’ve just come off the back of running my month long Grateful in April campaign where the focus was on what is good in people’s lives. It’s been uplifting and my dealings have been incredibly pleasurable.

Imagine my horror when I found myself in a couple of recent situations – one dealing with a person who was being incredibly difficult and another where someone was behaving in a passive aggressive manner.

Life would be easy if we all wanted the same thing all the time. Business negotiations would certainly run a lot more smoothly, but like it or not people have different agendas, goals and personalities that make business dealings much more complicated and difficult.

The first thing to realise is that not everyone sees the world as you do.

It can be easy to offend and frustrate someone when you think you’re being perfectly reasonable and responsive. Likewise, the passive aggressive person you’re dealing with is making you want to scream because they are discussing everything except that which is making them so irritated.

The best way to deal with business is to look for win-win solutions.

Put serious work into discovering what the people around you want and are aspiring to – it will make it a lot easier to work with them.

Once you discover what drives people, you can correlate this with your own motivations and try to find some common ground.

If it transpires that your aims are in complete contrast to the person you’re trying to deal with, then perhaps it’s time to walk away… and on these two occasions, that’s just what I did.

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  • Thanks Melina.

    I find it interesting that it is not the person that is the difficulty, but the relationship. In coaching senior executives, I teach them a simple strategy to keep people in their ‘comfort zone’ – by being flexible with our own approach to the relational dynamic, we can help the person we are dealing with be at their best. Solution orientation and appropriate openness are also good rules of thumb.

    At the end of the day, some interactions (even relationships) dont benefit either party, and your solution – walking away – seems highly appropriate. If it is done with a clear and rational view that this was where the relationship was at, rather than as an avoidance strategy (which a common defensive ploy), then well done!