Dealing with Difficult People
One of the Collaborative principals is an adjunct professor at a local university teaching a course with this name, so we’ve invested a lot of time in researching everything that has ever been written on the topic. Of course, we frequently talk about this also. Our key note speech to the PAICR organization in 2005 was on “The Five Secrets of Human Behavior”. So, why are there so many “difficult people” anyway?
Have you noticed—you live with them, you work with them, you may have them as vendors, or even clients! What makes a difficult person? People who don’t listen. Have their “own agenda”. Don’t seem to understand you. Keep “harping” on the same things over and over again. Generally disagree with you. Make you feel like you are 7 years old (or 11, or 16) again because they remind you of a parent. The list is endless and for each of us, the reason is different.So, why are we talking about this to financial professionals? Because to be successful—truly successful—you need to learn to deal with people you’d rather not have to interact with at all.
We’ve compiled some of the best tips from the literature and our own experiences:
- Remember that it really is about you—how you perceive the person, what buttons they may push, how you filter what they say and do.
- Remember that it really isn’t about you—Huh? How can we say this when we just said it is. Because, the other person has their own filter, their own needs and issues. Just because someone is acting in a difficult manner (yelling or cursing!), you don’t have to put up with it. Just say to yourself—”This is about their inability to control themselves, not about me.”
- See everyone as an opportunity for self-learning. Let’s face it – if I never get pushed out of my comfort zone but am allowed to stay where I like it, I’ll never grow and change. You don’t have to like everyone, and you don’t have to learn from them but at least go into each exchange thinking you will learn something.
- Adapt and grow, but be who you are. We spend a lot of our time trying to change ourselves to meet others’ needs. The leader of the firm is never going to get through to everyone working there. The boss is never going to work as well with every person. And, you’re never going to learn to “like” certain people. Figure out what you want to change and change it—but do it because you want to, not because you are trying to please someone else!
- Consider that you may be the difficult one. Interesting concept, isn’t it? For everyone you can’t seem to get through to and communicate with, there is probably someone who seems to you the same way. Try to be the person interested in self-learning and when the finger points at another, realize that four fingers are still pointing at you!!