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Issue July 2003                               "Keeping Businesses Moving Towards Success"

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How to Handle Difficult People

Difficult situations are a part of everyone's life. If you ignore situations where you have a conflict they almost always get worse. Employees get fired, partnerships and marriages break up, everyone is miserable.


Waiting and worrying is the most common "solution" but it only allows a stressful situation to get worse.

If you try to fix the problem by attacking the person in anger. it will give you a bad name, make people afraid of you and reduces honest communication.

Avoiding the problem or the person is another common solution but not always a wise or practical one. Losing employees, supporters and friends because you needlessly disassociate from them may reduce your anxieties but will not solve the problem.

The Best Solution Is to Confront and Handle Difficult People

When you face and resolve the problem yourself, you feel accomplished. You are in control of your life. You not only confront the opposition, you confront your fear. Few accomplishments are more satisfying than confronting someone who is difficult to face and handling the conflict on your terms.

Confronting and handling people becomes much easier if you work out a plan and follow it. The key is your preparation.

Follow these seven steps to prepare yourself for dealing with the difficult people in your life.

1. Make the decision to confront the person directly. This is a mental exercise to visualize the encounter.

2. Write down the exact problem you need to handle and your goal for the confrontation. What is the problem and know what you have to do to resolve it to your satisfaction.

3. Write down a plan or list of points you need to make to support your goal. List the facts, reasons and explanations you might need to help the other person understand. List the points in order of  importance.

4. Write down objections, reactions or disagreements you think the other person may have. Include everything you are think might happen during the meeting. Putting specific concerns in writing will lessen your fears and will give you a heads up on what to expect.

5. Organize your notes and  supportive documents.

6. Arrange the meeting where you will not be disturbed, preferably in a space you control.

7. Start the meeting.

  • Look the person directly in the eye.
  • Explain the specific problem you want to resolve.
  • Go over your first and most important point on the list.
  • Listen carefully to the other person and be sure they feel understood.
  • Hold a position on the points you are trying to make.
  • Use your solutions to their reactions as you worked out.
  • Continue describing your points and listening to the person's side.
  • Do not give up. Communicate and persist for as long as it takes to reach your goal.


The more frequently you confront and handle difficult people, the easier it becomes. The amount of time it takes to prepare for a confrontation will decrease.

When you confront and handle everyone around you, people respect you for your courage, your honesty and your control. Your associates, employees or coworkers follow your example and become more productive. Your enemies either become harmless or become friends.

Taking positive organized action, despite fear, is the kind of courage all successful people must have to succeed.

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*Article by Patricia Kopp.  Visit www.creativeBUSINESSworks.com for more original content on marketing tips, sales strategies and business success.
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