Dealing with Difficult People

Is dealing with difficult people a problem for your startup?  Everybody has a bad day someday. Let’s talk about how to cope when they unload on you.

Dealing with difficult people

When someone gets upset for whatever reason; you must first address their feelings; then you can address their problem.

  • Avoid feeling emotional yourself – Stay calm – Learn to stay away from people who lose control frequently
  • Listen carefully
  • Try to understand the other person’s position
  • Listen more
  • Pick the situations that you really need to address
  • When appropriate – Only use the word sorry in a complete sentence that includes the other person’s name
  • Make a statement that expresses empathy – I understand what you mean (or feel).  The empathy must be perceived as genuine or you have made the problem worse
  • Try to create rapport; for example …   I will report this to X ….   – But – Do not agree with someone who is out of control
  • People are driven by emotion.  So respond with genuine empathy and work for rapport. This may not resolve the issue.  But it should mitigate.
  • Do not become negative.  Stay on the high ground.
  • Allow no more than five minutes for the other person to vent. Then move on to the steps below.
  • Unfortunately you cannot stay silent.  That implies agreement to the one who is upset and to any audience.
  • Establish yourself as a problem solver who will help if they are calm.  Try to refocus the interaction as a problem solving discussion.  This may not work as well as you wish
  • Restate the part of their statement that is true and ask them to agree.
  • Keep the focus on them; not on you
  • Try some relevant/appropriate humor
  • Start leading the discussion in a good direction
  • Remember to stand up to bullies.  But be careful about doing it alone
  • If a situation is known in advance; you might read up on identifying and setting consequences
  • If all else fails – Shut down the conversation by cutting them off

References

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