Managing Difficult People: Three Questions to Turn the Table
Three Questions to Help You Turn Your Tormentors Into Teachers When Dealing with Difficult People
The project manager of a New Hampshire insurance company sighed at the thought of dealing with a combative employee. Not once more, he told himself. It’s difficult to have a conversation with this guy.
He made the decision to pursue a different strategy and change his perspective throughout the meeting. He started by assuming that the employee was somewhat rough around the edges but had excellent intentions. He pondered the possibility that if he sided with the worker, he would be better able to lead him. He started by positioning the office seats at oblique angles and generally facing each other rather than face to face.
The employee began by vehemently listing all the issues with the project. The manager initially tried to fight back, but he soon changed his concentration to listening and comprehending and sat there for a time. Instead of responding with arguments or refutations, he found himself inquiring about the employee’s perception of the true nature of the issue and the solutions he would recommend. The environment of conflict dissipated and gave way to one of cooperation. Physically seated in the same chairs, the two were now intellectually unified in their approaches to the issue. The manager’s self-change proved to be quite successful, and both the employee and management started working on
From Tormentor to Teacher
Its hard to like everyone. Some colleagues are great partners; we know their style and blend easily with them. We “dance well together.” With others we always seem to be out of step. We wonder, How can they be that way? or What makes them tick? Or worse we dont care; we just want to be as far away as possible.
The problem is we still have to work with these people, and our reactivity in their presence gives them a kind of power over us. However, by seeking to understand the opponent, we take the initiative. At worst, we learn something. At best, we may turn them into an ally and improve the quality of the work environment.
But how do you turn a tormentor into a teacher? Begin by asking yourself some questions about who they are and why they behave the way they do.
Who is this person away from the workplace? See the different parts of this person the parent, grandparent, friend, dancer, skier, singer, or loved one (of someone!). Chances are youre only seeing the annoying part of your tormentor. Widen your perspective.
What is their positive intention? Underneath the disrespectful behavior, what do they really want? Respect? Independence? Control? Acknowledgement? Attention? You may realize that you have similar goals, though you seek them differently.
Why do you think they behave as they do? Its useful to adopt the attitude that their actions have little (if anything) to do with you. Most people operate out of habit. Even if they dont get the respect or attention they desire, they cant change because they dont know any other way. Maybe it falls to you to help them find it. Suggest ways they might achieve their aims more effectively. Be their teacher.
4G Solar IP Camera 4MP Rechargeable Battery CCTV Security Home Wireless Surveillance Outdoor WiFi Camera PT Cam Color Vision 2K
Consider someone with whom you’re “dance” feels like a battle while you read this article. Afterward, begin with yourself rather than wishing they will change. It doesn’t imply that you’re in error, accountable, or that you should alter your viewpoint. It means that starting with what you can manage yourself will help you handle the problem more effectively.
Remember that youre doing this for you. You’re stuck and you want to get unstuck. Like your tormentor, you’ve been taking actions that arent working, so try something new. When your well-being depends upon the actions of others, you inadvertently give them power. But with awareness and practice, you can make new choices about how you respond to the difficult people and situations in your life and take the power back.
Our project manager and his employee will have more opportunities to dance with conflict as their relationship changes and grows. Thanks to the managers willingness to try something new, theyve discovered common ground from which to begin the process. We all have challenging people in our lives. Will they be tormentors or teachers? Our perspective greatly influences our response.