Managing Difficult People: A Supervisor’s Most Challenging Task

Angela Martin asked:

As a manager, you must deal with a wide range of personalities in your organization. During interviews, you do your best to hire employees who are motivated and cooperative. But even you’re most promising new-hires and especially your longtime staff members can manifest negative characteristics and difficult personality traits that challenge your ability to manage them. Worse yet, difficult employees bring down the morale of their coworkers and compromise your team’s ability to succeed. Difficult people can cause tension and conflict as their focus is totally on their own needs and issues.

Nobody likes working with difficult people, and the key is to understand them and develop techniques to deal with them effectively.

Types of difficult people

There are three types of difficult people:

1. Aggressor: Aggressive people are loud and don’t listen. They always want to win in a win/lose situation. Aggressive people dominate the conversation and are often very demanding.

2. Victim: Victims blame others for their problems and often seem helpless. Victims waste a lot of time by not taking initiative.

3. Rescuer: Rescuers try to help other people — but often for their own benefit. They like to be appreciated and avoid confrontation.

Managing difficult people

Managing difficult people is a challenging task for running a successful business, but it can be accomplished. Use these tips to help manage difficult people:

Communication: Effective communication and giving enough space is the best practice. Listen well, and let the other party talk. Understand: Understand the point of view of the difficult person. Build trust: Develop a sense of trust with difficult people so you can deal with them in the best possible way. Act normal: Treat a difficult person normally when you work with them. Give respect: Even if they are difficult people, they are real human beings. Make a difference to that person and you could change their life in a great way. Build relationships: Talk and listen to people and show that you really care. Provide help: Difficult people want to be loved, and to be a part of team again. So, help them when they need you. Recognize qualities: When you recognize the potential of difficult people, you win half the battle. This makes the person realize that he/she is a valuable asset to the organization. Be frank and honest: Don’t try to resolve issues when you deal with difficult people. Instead, be frank and clear on your expectations. Focus on results: Don’t forget the goals and vision for your business. When dealing with a difficult person, focus on how to run your business rather than on personal issues.

In a nutshell, when managing people, don’t compromise. Instead, focus on a common point that is important to both of you. Managing difficult people is all about finding a win-win situation.

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