If you’re like most people, your day is spent working with and dealing with generally pleasant people. But all of us, at one time or another, come into contact with a difficult person, and then we must rely on the communication skills training we’ve received to help us with strategies to handle that difficult person. Often, a communication skills video is a helpful tool to teach these strategies and model how to engage with difficult people.
Types of Difficult People
There are many types of people who are hard to work with – and they can be co-workers, customers, vendors and even bosses. Some of the more common types you may need to deal with are: people who are regularly rude and fail to use common courtesies (such as saying hello, please, or thank you); people who have no respect for time, regularly miss deadlines and are late for meetings; people who tell you TMI – Too Much Information about their own personal life, or someone else’s; people who can’t be relied upon to do what they say they’ll do; and of course, there are some people who are downright angry or disgruntled…these people require special care, especially when they are customers.
Using “I” Statements to Deal with Difficult People
An “I” statement is an effective way to non-accusatorily address someone who is being difficult. An “I” statement consists of four parts: I feel….when…because…so, I’d like… I statements should NOT be accusations – they should relate the other person’s action to the effects they have on you and how you feel. Because I statements put the focus on you, they are less likely to be resented by the person you’re addressing.
An I statement for the person who is regularly rude to you might sound like: “I feel offended when you don’t say ‘please’ when you’re asking something of me because it feels like I’m being commanded instead of asked. It would make a big difference to me if you would try to say please when you’re making a request.” An I statement for a person who regularly misses deadlines could be: “I was very concerned when you said you couldn’t meet the schedule because we have customers relying on a ship date. I’d like to take some time to meet and brainstorm how we can stay on schedule; can we do that?”
Dealing with Difficult Customers
When the difficult person is a disruptive customer, rely on your communication skills training or service recovery training to help you calmly manage the situation. If the customer is “making a scene” in a busy area, first ask to take the guest to a more private area. Then begin by listening to the customer, without interrupting. Hear them out so you make sure you fully understand their problem or complaint. Next, apologize – this shows you’re taking responsibility, and it can really help defuse the guest’s anger. After you’ve apologized, work with the guest to problem-solve and try to reach a satisfactory solution. Even though it may be difficult and you may feel attacked, remember to empathize with your guest, tell them you’re sorry, and personalize the solution to the problem so they feel heard, respected and satisfied.
Use a communication skills video like Working With You is Killing Me to teach and model the skills above. In this program, viewers are taught about toxic workplace relationships and how to unhook from them using verbal and written communication skills. When the difficult person is a customer, The Difficult Guest video provides solid training on recognizing, understanding, and taking care of irate or dissatisfied customers.