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More help dealing with the difficult people in your life


“The jerk store called, they’re running out of you.” George Costanza

In my last post I shared some specific things you can do when dealing with difficult people. Here are some other thoughts and links for further reading.

  1. Enlist others to help. Where possible, ask someone else to be part of your conversations (and a witness). This could be a friend, a “neutral” party, or an HR rep based on circumstances. Ask this person for feedback on your own style; also ask her/him to intervene if things start getting frosty and unproductive.

  2. Change the way you deal with this difficult person. Use email or phone calls or even a memo. Avoid them as much as you can. Can you use another person as a cutout between the two of you?

  3. You can use email as well to ask the other person to summarize discussions you have. You might find that your recollection of what was discussed differ from each other.

  4. Travel together or take on a challenge where you need to work together rather than focus on each other. You might find things to help you overcome your differences. Changing your environment can change your outlook, especially if you find that you have to rely on each other. If nothing else, you might end up with a couple of interesting stories.

  5. Leave the situation. Whether a job or a relationship, this is always an option. I recommend trying other ideas first, but sometimes leaving is your best path forward.

You can always ask the other person how things are working out for them. This might be the spark that helps you work together to find a solution. Of course, maybe you will just confirm your first impressions, but that is good information as well.

Even in a situation that seems out of control (or an interaction with an out-of-control person), you remain in charge of you and your actions and reactions. Don’t give that power up to another person, especially an inconsiderate jerk. Take a break, walk away, or apply another idea from these posts.

This is a common enough problem that there is a lot of advice that others have contributed. Some other articles you may want to read are:

How Smart People Handle Difficult People https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290372

20 Expert Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-the-questions/201503/20-expert-tactics-dealing-difficult-people

The Secret to Dealing with Difficult People: It’s About You https://hbr.org/2011/10/the-secret-to-dealing-with-dif.html

A Quick and Easy Survival Guide for Dealing with Assholes https://dariusforoux.com/survival-guide-for-dealing-with-assholes/

These two posts have provided a whole bunch of new tools for dealing with the difficult people in your life. The linked articles provide even more. Next month we will discuss executive presence and having a greater impact in your interactions with others.

Now go make it happen -- Tom

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