As someone who has to deal with a lot of customer service, handling difficult people has always been a part of my job. Nonetheless, it has also always been my least favorite part of my job. Fortunately, I never had to deal with difficult co-workers. I work in a very friendly office environment where everyone gets along pretty well. Nonetheless, I see my share of difficult angry people every day.
Handling angry people is the worst. Every once in a while, someone comes in so fed up that I think that they might become violent. Fortunately, I have been wrong every time so far, but I still had to learn some handy techniques to diffuse a difficult situation. One of the most important techniques with handling difficult people is to back off without encouraging them. Try to show them that you see their point of view and don’t want to conflict with them. You don’t want to be too submissive as you might add fuel to the fire. You do, however, want to be as nonthreatening as possible.
When you have to handle difficult people on a daily basis, however, this technique doesn’t always work. The trouble with handling difficult people is, once you show them that you will put up with their attitudes, they are more likely to dish out more of it on a daily basis. Sometimes, people are so difficult that you simply just have to have it out with them. Once you show them that you won’t roll over easily for them, they will often back off.
One of the most important tools for handling difficult people is getting a good moderator. Getting a third party involved is always helpful when the situation is threatening to blow up. A moderator can stop people from getting too angry and saying things they might regret. This is especially important if you are dealing with someone who you have to see on a daily basis. Even if someone is a difficult, obnoxious, and thoroughly uninteresting person, you still don’t want to have words with them more than necessary. If you do, you’ll create a hostile work environment that will not be fun for either of you.
The most important thing to remember when handling difficult people is to try to not let them get you down. Usually, difficult people work by intimidation and feed off your fear and unhappiness. If you can see them as irrelevant or even mildly amusing, you can win out over them.