3 Tips for Dealing With Difficult People
We all have people in our lives who rub us the wrong way: a colleague, boss, board member. Some you can avoid; others you cannot. These 3 tips will help you improve your relationship or communication with someone who you find difficult.
This week we talk about dealing with difficult people. We all have them in our lives. It might be a board member, a boss, a colleague, or a donor but there's some people who we just can't seem to get along with. So what are the some of the things you can do if you have to deal with someone who you find difficult?
First, listen I mean really listen.
Don't listen to try and argue back with them but really listen to what they have to say. How can you listen? Remove all distractions so that you're really focusing on them both verbally and non-verbally. Look at them not your phone.
Second of all, while you're listening to them, ask them questions.
Not questions that put them on the defensive but questions that try to get you to understand their position more fully. Ask things like I hear you say such and such or can you explain to me a little bit more about why you're feeling that way or why you have that perception. If you do that in an understanding manner, it'll help move the conversation along rather than stall it or have either of you get defensive.
Third thing you want to do is a perception check.
This is particularly important if the person is difficult because they like to play “gotcha”. That is they assume that you know or you believe something is due at a particular time or you're going to do X Y Z and you don't. Perception checks are very helpful at the end of a conversation when you can say okay so what I'm hearing you say is “you would like me to get you a list of the top 50 donors with their lifetime giving by Friday at 5.” tTat way if the person says “yes” you know you're both on the same page. If the person says “no I think I'd like XYZ,” then you had a misunderstanding and you could prevent a potential conflict.
Finally, if you can, end the relationship.
There are some people who are so difficult and so toxic that minimizing your contact with them might be your best line of defense. That might be a little challenging if it’s a board member but maybe it's a case where you make sure there's always someone else with you or you minimize the amount of time you spend with them. Life's too short to spend it with toxic people so do your best to try and repair the relationship on your end.