Everyone has encountered that surly person who makes the job just a little harder for those around them. Whether it’s a client or a member of the team, difficult personalities can throw a wrench into your day, and ruin your concentration and productivity. Some benevolent souls have endless patience and understanding when it comes to dealing with unreasonable or rude people, but for the rest of us, here are just a few tips to get you through these encounters without losing your cool.
- Be Calm – Easier said than done I’m sure. If someone is already angry with you, they want you to be angry too. It helps them feel justified in their anger, and allows the confrontation to build. But if you’re both screaming neither of you will truly be listening. Try not be reactive. If you remain calm and keep your voice low, even if they start to yell, you can often take much of the aggression out of the situation.
- Be Empathetic – Try to understand what is going on behind the scenes with difficult people around you. There could be other things aggravating their behavior. They might be busy, or ill, or dealing with their own difficult person. These other factors definitely shouldn’t excuse bad behavior, but it helps to remind yourself not to take things personally. People generally do what they do because of their own issues.
- Be Engaged– It’s tempting to tune these people out and get away as quick as you can, but then they’d likely just become more agitated because they feel like no one is listening to them. Most people want to feel heard, and they want their opinions acknowledged. If you can listen and be genuine in your responses, you can help both parties walk away satisfied and avoid having to discuss the issue over and over again.
- Focus on Solutions – Aggressive people tend to want to keep the spotlight on you in confrontations. They want to talk about what you did wrong, and why you’re the bad guy. Try to focus the conversation on what will fix the issue rather than what caused it. Letting someone rehash every facet of what made them angry will just make them angry all over again, and if you focus on solutions your encounter will be considerably shorter.
- Know when to rise above or walk away – Some things are just not worth the argument. We all know there are times to pick your battles, and it’s important to remember this when in a heated situation. Sometimes keeping a healthy distance from people you know you clash with is the best course of action.
So the next time you encounter a person who is a bit testy or tries your patience, employ a few of these tactics to make the best of a difficult situation. I bet you’ll see a big difference in the outcome of those conversations.
Director of Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555