Here are 10 Steps to Prepare You to Deal With Difficult People:
1. Describe a difficult behavior that is currently causing a problem for you.
2. In what way is the described behavior causing difficulties for you?
3. What is your relationship to the person exhibiting the difficult behavior (boss, subordinate, coworker, customer, etc.)?
4. What do you think is motivating the difficult behavior on the other person’s part? To what extent is it motivated by real circumstances (promotion, demotion, personal life issues, etc.)?
5. From the difficult person’s perspective, what behavior on your part may be causing or aggravating the behavior? To what extent is that perspective correct?
6. What can you do to reduce or eliminate the effect of the difficult behavior that does not require action or change on the other person’s part (change office location, learn to ignore the behavior, modify work assignments to reduce contact with the difficult person, etc.)?
7. What can you do to reduce or eliminate the effect of the difficult behavior that does require action or change on the other person’s part (confront the person about the problem behavior, speak to a supervisor or human resources person, file a complaint, etc.)?
8. What can you do to reduce or eliminate the effect of the difficult behavior that requires changing your own behavior or attitude (befriend the difficult person, learn techniques to counter the behavior, etc.)?
9. Who can help you with this person’s difficult behavior, and what can he or she do (role-play difficult conversations, intervene with the difficult person, etc.)?
10. What immediate action steps will you take to reduce this problem? How will you evaluate how well (or poorly) they work? What will you do if the initial steps are insufficient?
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Michael S. Dobson (New York, NY) is a consultant and popular seminar leader in project management, communications, and personal success. He is the president of his own consulting firm whose clients include Calvin Klein Cosmetics and the Department of Health and Human Services. He is the author of several books including Managing Up (978-0-8144-7042-8).