how-to-deal-with-difficult-situations-and-peopleDifficult situations can be just that or can be caused directly by difficult and unreasonable people. In the workplace they affect people in different ways – reduce morale and negatively affect productivity. Recognising difficult people and situations is a crucial first step.

Recognising difficult situation and difficult people

Difficult situations can be just that or can be caused directly by difficult and unreasonable PEOPLE. In the workplace they affect people in different ways – reduce morale, negatively affect productivity.

Types of difficult behaviour

  • Aggressive person – makes a lot of noise, bully
  • Know-it-all person – inability to listen, interrupt conversations sharing their unsolicited opinions, rarely admit they’re wrong
  • Negative personality (the complainer) – ‘glass half empty’ mentality, always provide worst-case scenarios
  • Submissive behaviour – prefer to sit on sidelines and and only join activities once asked to
  • Passive aggressive – says nothing in meetings but makes aggressive comments afterwards, seem passive but sarcasticly poisonous
  • High maintenance behaviour – may appear to be well meaning but demands on time and resources become a liability

There are 5 main styles of dealing with conflict. Most people will have their preferred style however there’s not necessarily a right/wrong style as different conflict resolution styles can help with different critical situation.

  1. Competitive – these are people in a position of power due to expertise or rank and take firm stands with clear goal in mind.
  2. Collaborative – try to meet needs of all parties involved. This people can be highly assertive (note, not aggressive so this is good) and seek for win/win outcomes.
  3. Compromising – compromising style is good in situations where cost of conflict is higher then the cost of loosing ground with equally strong parties; this is used when deadline is approaching
  4. Accommodating – used when the peace and relationship is more valuable than winning
  5. Avoiding – yes, this style can work well when victory is impossible.

 HOW TO deal with difficult situations?

With three main interpersonal styles of 1. Submissive, 2. Aggressive and 3. Assertive where the last one is the preferred one. Assertion is an interpersonal style, the way you deal with people all of the time. It affects your way of thinking about others and your relationships with them.

Don’t bee afraid to assert yourself and here’s the formula with examples

When you _____, I feel _____, because I _____. I would prefer ____?


Whenever we hear customer complaints we take them seriously, however raising your voice is not going to get us anywhere because it is counter-productive. I would prefer we gather facts first by discussing it further.

When you raise your voice at me I feel intimidated because this is affecting me on a personal level. Could you please change your tone!

Bonus formula would be in a form of

“I appreciate/understand/realise..” (show that you listen)
“however..” (say what you think or feel)
“and so..” (say what you would like to happen)

Bonus 2

What happens when the difficult person persists with their unreasonable demands?

Broken record technique

This technique involves calm repetition of the situation and what we can or can’t do. This is done by using one sentence in a soft, calm and unemotional voice and repeating it as often as required. Example: “I appreciate your viewpoint – I’m simply unable to approve your request”.

Fogging technique

By simply agreeing, you’re not committing yourself to any action. Use this in conjunction with broken record. Example: “yes, you do have a point there” and “on balance, you may be correct there”.

Negative enquiry technique

You respond with a request for information from the other person when they criticise, this way it allows you and the other person to concentrate on the issue and not get side-tracked. This technique tends to calm people down as they try to respond rationally to your inquiry.

Leave comment bellow, what do you think, what else could you tell difficult and aggressive people?

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