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Dealing with Difficult People. Jamie Jueckstock Resident Director Collegiate Village Graduate Student Buffalo State College. Agenda. Understanding Difficult People/Behavior Types of Difficult People/Behavior
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Dealing with Difficult People Jamie Jueckstock Resident Director Collegiate Village Graduate Student Buffalo State College
Agenda • Understanding Difficult People/Behavior • Types of Difficult People/Behavior • Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Difficult Interactions with Types of Difficult People/Behavior • General Tips and Strategies
Understanding Difficult Behavior • Difficult people are usually a result of conflicting personalities not because of intentional behaviors • If you notice someone is more difficult around you than others, it may be because your personalities clash • It’s important to remember we can all be difficult whether we mean to or not • NO FEAR! I’ll give you some tips to help you deal…
“Eventually we will find (mostly in retrospect, of course) that we can be very grateful to those people who have made life most difficult for us.” • AyyaKhema Source: When the Iron Eagle Flies: Buddhism for the West
Recognizing Difficult People • Some key characteristics • They’re never satisfied • “I pay to go here, I should get to do whatever I want.” • “I pay my student activity fee! Do this program now!” • They don’t communicate easily with others • “Because I said so.” • They can be argumentative and unreasonable • They often use their power to obstruct • “Do you know who my father is?” • “I will sue you.”
“Resistance is thought transformed into feeling. Change the thought that creates the resistance, and there is no more resistance.” -Robert Conklin
Recognizing Difficult People • "Coping With Difficult People" by Robert M. Bramson, Ph.D. identifies seven different types of difficult people/behavior: • The “Sherman Tank” • The “Exploder” • The “Complainer” • The “Clam” • The “Wet Blanket” • The “Know-It-All” • The “Staller” • Let’s go over the characteristics of these people so you can identify their behaviors, then we’ll discuss the do’s and don’ts specifically for those people/behaviors!
The “Sherman Tank” Characteristics • Always on the attack • Abusive • Intimidating • Overpowering • Always right • Lack of caring and respect for others Do’s and Don’ts • Don’t worry about being polite; Just get your point across any way you can • Don’t argue with what they say • Don’t try to cut them down • Do maintain eye contact • Do state your own opinions and thoughts forcefully without apology • Do be ready for negotiation
The “Exploder” Characteristics • Temper tantrum behavior • Raging outbursts that are out of control • Shout, throw things, and often say regrettable things • Behavior result of feeling threatened and cannot cope with the situation Do’s and Don’ts • Do give them time to wind down • Do switch to a problem-solving mode of interaction • Do use active listening skills to show that you take their concerns seriously • Don’t allow for them to maintain behavior in a public area (Move to a more private area to calm down) • Don’t initially force them to calm down, let them try to gain self control on their own
The “Complainer” Characteristics • Finds fault with everything • Hold idea that someone should be doing something about their problems • Will not engage in productive problem solving discussion • Often feel powerless to change the situations that they complain about • Like to feel free from responsibility with a problem Do’s and Don’ts • Do listen attentively to their complaints • Do show them you hear them by using paraphrasing or summarizing • Do state the facts without comment • Do ask the complainer “How do you want this discussion to end?’ • Don’t agree or apologize about their complaints • Don’t allow a accusation-defense-reaccusation pattern develop
The “Clam” Characteristics • Silent • Just “yes” and “no” answers • Hard to open us • Maintain stance • Easily mask fear and anger • Refuse to cooperate • Won’t effectively communicate Do’s and Don’ts • Do ask open ended questions • Do wait for a response • Do be patient and plan to spend extra time with them • Do comment on what is happening during interaction and “discussion” • Don’t break silence while waiting for a response • Don’t hurry conversation along by filling up conversation with your own talk and chatter
The “Wet Blanket” Characteristics • Responds to anything with a quick and negative response • Has the “it won’t work, don’t bother” attitude • Feel as though everything is out of their control • Bitter about life • Negative and critical Do’s and Don’ts • Do know your own tendencies of pessimism • Do be optimistic and realistic in interaction • Do consider possible negative outcomes of the problem • Do be prepared to take action on your own • Don’t argue them out of their pessimism • Don’t offer solutions until the problem has been thoroughly discussed
The “Know-It All” Characteristics • “Expert” on all matters • Feel others are stupid or uninformed • Often react to others’ knowledge with anger, withdrawal, or irritation • Likes control of everything Do’s and Don’ts • Do be prepared and have all information possible • Do listen carefully and paraphrase main points • Do be tentative in disagreements • Do use questions to raise problems • Don’t act like a Know-It-All back • Don’t over-generalize and be as specific as possible
The “Staller” Characteristics • Indecisive • Lack follow-through • Leave others to do work • Undependable • Typical response is no response • Cannot make up their minds Do’s and Don’ts • Do be open to listening to conflicts and difficulties Stallers have in making choices and decisions • Do listen for indirect cues for underlying issues • Do use problem solving techniques • Do concentrate on facts • Do support any decision making the Staller can offer • Don’t fully depend on a Staller to get something done
General Tips and Strategies Be proactive • Have a plan • Prepare for worst possible situation Listen • Look and sound like you are listening-Maintain eye contact, nod your head and look interested • If the other person senses that you care and that you’re interested, they’re likely to become more reasonable
General Tips and Strategies Choose Words Carefully • There are certain “Trigger Words” that can cause people to become more difficult especially in emotionally charged situations. • These “Trigger Words” include: • “Calm Down!” • “You have to…” • “You can’t…” • “Sorry” • “But”
General Tips and Strategies Empathize • This has to be a genuine response or the person will feel patronize • The basic message is “I understand that you feel ___.” • Empathy isn’t an agreement but acceptance • Don’t use “I’m sorry.” It is overused. Use “I apologize.” if you are going to be apologetic
General Tips and Strategies Don’t overpromise or make threats that you cannot keep • In difficult situations we are often tempted to make promises that are difficult to keep. Be honest. • If you add fuel to the fire (threats), the person will become more angry and more difficult • You will lose credibility if you cannot keep promises or follow through with the threats
Confrontation Giving Constructive Feedback
Take an honest look at where you're coming from. If there's some anger or resentment toward the team member, then you're probably not the best person to offer them advice. Start and end with a compliment. Find something good to say about your team member, this will help him or her take in your advice. At the end of the conversation, it will help your team member to feel that they aren't a failure or that you're not angry. Listen to your own voice. The tone of your voice can communicate as much (if not more) than the words you choose. If there is an edge to your voice it will be harder for your team member to take in your request. Eye contact is important It helps both of you stay focused and it communicates sincerity. It will also help you stay on topic. If you're working on the computer or busy with something, stop what you're doing and look at the person you're speaking to.
Choose the best time and place. Never give criticism in public, in front of another person, or when you or your team member may be too tired or hungry to deal with it appropriately. If you're physically uncomfortable you may not be in the best frame of mind to talk about a difficult subject. Do your best to avoid hurting your anyone's feelings. Use a softened start-up followed by a gentle suggestion. For example you could say, "I really like the way to talk to your supervisor, you would get a better response from your team members if you spoke to them in the same way. Talk about the behavior not the person. Feedback is not about insulting someone's behavior, it's about telling him or her how to be better. For example, you would never say to a child, "You are a mistake." Instead you would say, "You made a mistake."
Use gentle humor if possible. If you can deliver criticism in a light-hearted manner, it will be received in a much more positive way. Humor doesn't diminish the seriousness of the feedback you are giving, it actually helps the person receiving the direction to open up and take it in. Work with your team member to improve the situation. This will help him or her to make the appropriate adjustments sooner rather than later. It will also strengthen your bond as a team. Making changes is easier if you have someone supporting you. Don't harp. Once you have asked for what you need from your team member, let it go. If you have to ask someone to do something four times, I can promise you that the person in question has heard what you have to say. If you've reached an agreement or agreed to disagree, let it go and move on, holding a grudge is a waste of time.
Confrontation Receiving Constructive Feedback
Recognize the value of constructive criticism. Such criticism can improve relationships and productivity. • 2. Engage in perspective taking or role reversal. Try to understand the perspective of the person offering criticism. • 3. Acknowledge criticism that focuses on your behavior. Attempt to transform criticism that seems directed at your "person" to specific behavioral issues. • 4. Listen actively. Even though criticism may hurt, seek to understand accurately the criticism being presented. a. Paraphrase what the other is saying. b. Ask questions to increase understanding. c. Check out nonverbal displays (check your perceptions). • 5. Work hard to avoid becoming defensive. Resist any tendency to want to dismiss criticism or retaliate.
6. Welcome criticism; use the criticism appropriate to improve. 7. Maintain your interpersonal power and authority to make your own decisions. Criticism, when directed at one's "person," may weaken one's resolve. Focus the other's criticism on your actions. Seek ownership of solutions. 8. Seek constructive changes to the behavior that prompted the criticism. 9. Insist on valid criticism. Valid criticism:a. addresses behaviors. b. is timely.c. is specific. 10. Communicate clearly how you feel and think about the criticism and receiving criticism. Use "I" messages.
Confrontation Let’s practice!
Situation 1: You are in a group for a class project and one of your group members is not doing ANY of the work and has failed to hand in their portion of the assignment. Meanwhile, there is another group member who is being very controlling and has taken it upon themselves to do all of the project and to edit the work you’ve handed in. As a group member who doesn’t want to do others work but wants to contribute to the group, how would you approach these two people and give them constructive feedback. Situation 2: You are President of SUB and you are planning an event. You have delegated job duties to each Eboard member so that the event will be successful and it is not all on one person. Although you’ve delegated tasks, you still are controlling and micro-manage the event planning. You take over on all decisions and leave the Eboard feeling untrusted and that they can’t handle the tasks given. You are the Vice President and Treasurer. You feel like you could have handled the tasks and done a good job. You feel like the President should have trusted you and handled the situation better. Together, confront the president, tell the president how you feel and give them constructive feedback as to how to better handle these types of situations.