Dealing with difficult people by John Seeley
No matter whether in business or whatever you are doing in life, there are always times when people are in difficult moods, and you are the person that is having to deal with them. This is the time to remember Don Miguel Ruiz’s advice from The Four Agreements, “Don’t take it personally.” It really doesn’t have anything to do with you. If you make the mistake of taking it personally, you will probably realize that it becomes a spiraling downward mess.
If you respond defensively, then they will too. Suddenly things that would normally be workable are now impossible to even discuss. Stop! Take a breath. Take another breath. Now start fresh. Better yet, begin by coming from a neutral place with a clear intention of balance and resolution to whatever challenges come up. Often asking the client to do the same helps to diffuse their negativity. If they get focused on a clear intention of resolving their problem then you are both working toward the same goal.
Most times people really want to be heard. If you take the time to listen, really listen, without any judgments. That will go a long way to resolve the situation. Listening to them as if you have no opinion about what they are saying. Check with them to clarify what they just said by repeating it back to them. This allows them to really feel understood, and correct any misperceptions. Ask what they see as the solution to the problem. Often they will find their own answers and resolve the situation.
If the situation requires more action, then ask the how they would want to handle it. If what they are asking for is reasonable set a plan to implement their request. If it involves someone else then speak to the other person(s) separately and relay the information and possible solution. Just the fact that you are the go between, you have the opportunity to give the information without the negative energy that the original person might have had. Once the solution is agreed to by all parties, you can set the timetable to implement it, and a follow up if necessary.
There is often something else really bothering the person, and they may not recognize what it is, or that it has nothing to do with what they think they are upset about. When this is the case, it’s often good to ask them if there is anything else that could be bothering them. Sometimes that is enough to have them see the real issue. Other times they won’t see that they are overreacting. If you feel that you can diplomatically tell them that they might be more upset than may be reasonable, they may or may not listen. If not then it’s probably best to set another time to discuss the matter, when the energy will be lessoned.
It sometimes is a big challenge to deal with someone that is in a difficult mood, but the effort is usually worthwhile to shift the situation sooner rather than later, and to remain calm in the midst of the chaos that may be present.
Remember the quote:
"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs… Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it.” - Rudyard Kipling.