Difficult people turn up everywhere, especially at work. They generally disagree with what you have to say and make life difficult. By asking the right questions at the right time however you can make things much easier.
Ever sat in a meeting and had someone object to everything you say or suggest, then you have felt how it is to handle difficult people. Some folks, whether playing devil’s advocate or being awkward for other reasons are just hard to work with. Your secret weapon in dealing with difficult people – questions.
The first thing to remember when dealing with someone who is clearly not on your side is that they may just have the company’s best interests at heart. They may be picking faults to ensure you all reach the right outcome in the long run, so it’s important to consider their motivation. Our natural reaction to difficult people is to respond in an affronted way, but if you re-think your approach, you could come out of negotiations a lot better.
Start out with questions before going into defence mode. If someone makes a sweeping statement that undermines your work for example, ask them to quantify, or clarify. Instead of the conversation becoming awkward, take it the right way by responding with a question. In this way, you open the door for constructive conversation instead of shutting things down with a defensive response. You will also give the impression of wanting to work together to find a solution, rather than get one up on this particular individual.
Bringing the person into a dialogue instead of an exchange of words will move the conversation in the right direction. Not only will it contribute to finding solutions, it will help to reveal if they are exaggerating the situation in any way. When dealing with difficult people, remember don’t defend, question. You will be surprised at the outcomes.