Four tips for dealing with difficult people

If you have spent any time working in IT you will come across those people that are just difficult any time you interact with them.  Hopefully, the tips below can make those interactions just a bit easier to deal with.

First seek to understand:   More than any other behavior I think this will serve you better than almost any other.  If you’re dealing with an irate user quite often there is a legitimate reason that they’re upset.  The ability to remain calm and ask really good questions to understand where they’re coming from may help you to gain insight and empathy for their situation.   Your ability to empathize with their frustration can really foster positive long term relationships.   This can really pay dividends when you may need allies in your organization.

Demonstrate the behavior you want:  Many people when you present them with a calm and pleasant demeanor that reassures them that you are indeed going to solve their issue will begin to calm down.

Tip:  Depending on your situation in your environment you may choose to go see the user face to face.  Make sure you are in the right frame of mind when you go to see them.  Recognize the state you’re in.  It may be better to help them remotely, assuming you have the tools to do so.  If you can only manage a positive tone then limit the interaction to phone at most.

Fix what’s broken:  More often than not if you can fix whatever they’re dealing with they will likely calm down.  Also, admitting that there was an issue, as long as it’s not them, you can win favor by correcting the issue quickly and explaining in as simple of terms as possible.

Simplification:  One of the areas that has been the greatest area for success for my team and I has been the ability to boil down complex issues in as simple of terms possible.  If you can make relative comparisons and draw from analogy to explain why something happened or the way it works can greatly increase their overall understanding.

Finally, some people are just assholes.   In every organization there are those people who are just assholes.  There are those situations that you just can’t win in.  Often the best thing is to limit the interactions with these people as much as possible, while still doing your job.   The one thing that you will commonly find out is that this behavior is not unique to you.

No one should be abused in the work place and you need to find a method to bring this to the attention of your leader.  If your leader is the one you are dealing with you may need to evaluate what your long term situation looks like.

When dealing with this type of person it’s important that you find a place to vent that is healthy and safe.   Release the pressure of the person you just had to deal with and then move on to the next item on your list.  Realize your day is going to get better from that point on.

Do you have any suggestions that I missed?  Was this helpful to you?  Leave a comment below.