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Leading Difficult People

June 04, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 210

Difficult people: we're surrounded by them. They can be found among our families, friends, and professional colleagues. In fact, we likely encounter a difficult person every day. They can be quickly identified by their unwillingness to cooperate, constant nay-saying, defensiveness, and their passive aggressive behaviors.

Oftentimes, there are no workaround solutions for difficult people: they are in our lives and they want their presence to be known. Rather than treat these individuals as obstacles to avoid, leaders have to view these men and women in a different light: as opportunities where they can provide a little leadership.

Are you ready to rise to the occasion to best influence and inspire the difficult person in your life? Here are five tips on how best to lead them:

  • Is it them - or is it really you? Prior to confronting a difficult person, you have to do a sincere, honest gut check. Is it really that the individual is difficult... or is it that your response to them is less than professional? If you constantly find that everyone in your circle is difficult, this is a quick sign that maybe it's not them... maybe it's you.
  • Empathize with them. When was the last time you tried to view the world through that difficult person's eyes? When you can empathize with someone, you seek to own their view point and start to understand what is triggering their difficult attitude. Perhaps there are ways that you can engage this dramatic or defensive person differently in a respectful, tactful way that will ensure a successful outcome.
  • Confront the issue when it impacts team/organizational goals. Not every issue that a difficult person brings up needs to be addressed. However, if there is something specific - such as a poor attitude - that this individual is bringing with them to work, then there is an opportunity for you to address it because it is impacting your team. Choose a time to address this issue when the difficult person is not in full drama mode. Rather, after the drama has subsided, ask the individual for a few minutes, pick a quiet place, and discuss the issue that is impacting the productivity and mood of your environment.
  • Practice Discretion. Don't join the band wagon by gossiping or complaining about this difficult person - chances are, you are only adding more fuel to the fire. Rather, disengage from the unhealthy discourse or even go so far as to offer suggestions for how best to handle the situation. Ultimately, be accountable for your behavior to ensure that you contribute to a healthy, productive environment.
  • Acceptance. At the end of the day, you can't control a difficult individual. Your best hope is to influence them through the support (not enablement) that you can offer, your perspective and suggestions for handling situations, the example that you set, and your willingness to engage them... even though they seem to alienate others around them.

Any leadership you can offer the difficult individual in your life will allow you to feel more in control of your environment and less at the mercy of difficult people.

A nationally recognized leadership development consultant, Angie Morgan co-founded Lead Star with Courtney Lynch and co-authored their best-selling book "Leading from the Front" (McGraw-Hill) to share leadership best practices with professionals everywhere. An outgrowth of their experiences as Marine Corps Officers, private sector professionals, and entrepreneurs, Angie & Courtney made a commitment to provide practical, relevant and inspiring ways to grow and develop leaders. Since 2004, Lead Star has become one of the foremost leadership consulting firms in the U.S. Learn more at

Source: EzineArticles
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