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How to Deal with Difficult People and Reduce Conflict

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 @ 12:00 PM

motivational speaker"A day without laughter is a day wasted."

—Charlie Chaplin

Nobody like a grump except another grump. Yes, misery loves company (but not my company, thank you).  To the grumps of the world, I figure...If you can't be happy or sort out your attitude than go away and don't spoil the fun for the rest of us.

Read: 3 Steps to Put Difficult People in their Place

I used to recommend we simply steer clear of difficult people.  This is fine unless your forced to work with a difficult person, you married one or gave birth to one.


Over and over again people say they would love their job if it weren't for the sour, negative people in their workplaces.

Some people's prickly personality can drag down morale for everyone. There are literally hundreds of techniques to address difficult people but my main suggestion is to have the hard hitting confidence to express yourself and address the difficult derelects.

The main reason people are difficult is they get away with it. People typically deal with  difficult people by ignoring them or pretending they don't bother us.

Motivational speaker Dale Carnegie is well known for saying “any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Read: 4 Types of Conflict

I agree as long as difficult people aren't taking advantage of your calm character and getting away with a lot of damage to the workplace in the meantime.

Many theories on conflict management suggest we stay calm in conflict, look in the mirror and see how we contribute to the situation, or consider the difficult persons perspective. I agree, all of this could work- unless it is just another excuse to put up with abusive behavior.

Read: How to Communicate better with Men

This avoid/ pretend pattern starts to look like this:

We are tolerant they're vengeful

We are mature and nurturing and they are domineering and aggressive

We are enthusiastic and merciful and they are headstrong and combative

In the end, who has the upper hand? The difficult people do. As a motivational speaker I sometimes speak about conflict and recommend that people try to undertand what effect difficult people are having on their lives. When they really look at it, the damage runs deep. Difficult personalities often get their way at the expense of others.

Read: How to Make People Accountable

Than work backward to understand how our behaviors ( accomodating, accepting, pretending) are contributing.

Knowing this acts as fuel to finally have the confidence to step up and address difficult people. This message is to encourage you to stop side stepping surly people so that you can appear calm and in control. Instead, express yourself ( don't lash out and be difficult too) confidently.

Read: What to say to people to calm them down

Many times, difficult people appreciate being put in their place and they respect your new approach. If they lash out, don't enter a screaming match, instead leave them with their thoughts and go back later and tell them how their behavior is affecting your ability to work.

I use a simple formulae to address conflict in a motivational speech... talk about the behavior, say why it bothers you and ask for something different.

For instance... Tom, how are you? I want to chat with you about the other day when you marched into the meeting and started accusing people of things. When you do this it really puts people on edge and sets the meeting off in the wrong direction. Next time you have issues with someone please talk directly with them first to try to resolve it. Ok?

Check out our Motivational speech on Conflict....I Love My Job, it's the People I can't Stand!



Tags: motivational speaker, motivational speech, deal with difficult people

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