Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Conflict Management- Dealing with difficult people

Part 1: Aggressive Difficult People

Do any of the following examples sound familiar?

“Michelle, will you come into my office please” ordered her boss Ron.
As Michelle entered the office, Ron closed the door and went into an immediate tirade.
“I told you and everyone else that there was to be no food in the work area!  For some reason, you didn’t think I was serious.  You know we have a problem here with germs; yet you purposely defied my order.  What is wrong with you?  Can’t you do anything right?  You just don’t seem to want to listen to me so I have to write you up.  It’s not my choice, you brought this on yourself! I don’t know how long we can keep you here if you won’t follow the rules!”
Larry screamed to Sheila,
 “What are you—an idiot?  You are so stupid; I don’t know why anyone would want you.  You embarrass me all the time.  My friends come over and think you run my life.  Next time you want to correct me, you do it in private—not in front of everybody.  You are always doing this to me and I’m not going to put up with it anymore.”
Does this sound familiar, or some version of something that has happened to you at work or at home? 
These are examples of a bull. 

The two examples shown above are men; however, women can be just as effective at being a bull.  While researching for this series of articles, I found lots of tips for dealing with difficult people; however, they all gave the same tips for all difficult people.  The problem is dealing with a bull or bully takes different strategies than dealing with other difficult people such as the “Know it all” or “Slippery Pete.”  Yes we have many names for many types of difficult people.

With the help of my research assistant, Shannon, we have identified 9 difficult people (there are many more) and categorized them into three areas:  Aggressive People, Attention Seekers, and Stressed out People.
In the next few blogs we will describe the person using our pet names, and give some tips on how to deal with them.  It takes different strategies for each person.  One size does not fit all.  First, we will discuss the “Bull.”
Examples of the Bull opened this article.  She/he is usually incompetent, devious, deceptive, evasive, manipulative - and cheats.  The Bull wants you to feel shame, embarrassment, guilt, and fear so s/he can control you.  Sometimes you need help to deal with the Bull.  The following are some tips.

·         React differently to the Bull: Be calm and stand up
·         Give the bull time to blow off steam and run out of things to say.
·         Get the Bull to sit down and you sit next to the Bull. Do not put a desk or table between you.
·         Talk for yourself only using “I” statements and observations
·         Avoid a battle; this will only escalate the Bull

If you can not stop the Bull from Bullying, start keeping a journal. The Bull will try to build a power coalition against you and will get others to believe you are the problem.  The Bull will lie and explain every incident away as your fault.  If you keep a journal, you can establish a pattern and the Bull will not be able to explain away a pattern.  Also, a journal will calm you down.
Life is too short, we don’t want to get our feathers ruffled the minute we drive into the parking lot at work or home and see the Bull’s car.  That seems to ruin the day at the get go.  Don’t avoid the Bull, you will suffer and the Bull will find satisfaction with getting to you.  Follow these tips and start to enjoy work and family again.

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