Project Management

Dealing With Difficult People

Tom Keenze
Effective relationship management will inevitably involve having to deal with difficult people. Solid communication skills and an understanding of the needs of difficult people will equip you to deal with these situations better. This holds true not only for customers, but for fellow employees as well.

 Remember that we communicate with people for three primary reasons:

  • To exchange information
  • To initiate action
  • To change an attitude or feeling

If you find yourself in a difficult situation, you are probably trying to change an attitude, and it is important to identify the type of person with whom you are dealing. Psychologist William Marston developed an instrument in 1928 that has been used with  millions of people and is believed to be 90 percent accurate. As it happens, the instrument shows that most normal people develop a style that fits into one of the following categories: dominance, influencing, steadiness and competency.

Donald Trump, General George Patton, Harry Truman, Hillary Clinton and General Norman Schwarzkopf are examples of the dominance style. They are confident and demanding. They also love challenges, talk fast, make quick decisions and believe they are “right.” Their primary focus is getting results.

The influencing style folks are friendly, outgoing and emotional. They are people…

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If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

- Jack Handey