Sep 16, 2021
Conflict happens in organisations. We can’t stop that, but we can control how we react to others when disagreements and arguments arise.
You know you are not perfect, but some of those around you are a real pain to deal with. Why are they so difficult to get on with? Who knows, but the easiest way forward is to reduce the stress to a minimum by avoiding them or minimizing any interactions.
That may be true, but in fact unresolved conflicts, miscommunication and diminished information exchange, leads to even greater time wastage, morale hits and the bottom line of lost productivity.
Can we control other people, especially those we deem difficult? Good luck on that one! We can however control ourselves in any situation or relationship.
Past situation analysis is a handy tool to plumb the depths of our unhappiness with others. What was the trigger point for you or them? Is it possible you contributed to the explosion of emotions?
A handy helper in the tool box of dealing with the difficult is “the benefit of the doubt”. This means suspending the attractive beliefs that you are right, they are wrong, you are perfect and they are an idiot. What do you know about this person that might be triggering their behavior that you find upsetting or at the least plain annoying?
Is there some historical context operating here around the way they were raised, the life experiences they have had and the influences they have absorbed? Is this a communication issue because neither of you are a native speaker of the same language.
Is there some situational context in play here. Have they scratched the duco on their new car that morning, had a fight with their partner at home, just been royally chewed out by their boss, etc?
There are some useful human relations principles we can apply to move us into a positive mental framework. Instead of telling others what they need to do to fly straight, we can swap in some questions instead. What led them to reach that conclusion? What experience has led them to believe their idea is the best solution?
Letting them save face is a handy idea. Our egos can lock us into positions we don’t fully hold, because we don’t want to be seen to be backing down. We can take the ego bit out of the equation by how we communicate during the interaction. Being polite, reasonable and open goes a long way to reaching a resolution.
We might even disarm them with praise and honest appreciation for raising their countervailing views with us. When they know there is likely to be a disagreement, they mentally gear up for battle. By not providing a target there is no battle. We could thank them for being forthright and candid.
Hard core difficult types may still try to get a rise out of us, because they need to have a fight, but let’s not fall for that one. Instead get them talking about the way they came to their conclusion and where they have seen this work well in the past. Smiling silence is our best defence, as we get them to do the talking.
Difficult people are only difficult if we allow them to annoy us. When we take the high road, they often just run out of gas because we are not supplying the fuel for the fight. Superior human relations skills are a powerful ally in dealing with the difficult, but they need practice and discipline.
Try using these ideas and life will get a whole lot easier!