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What are tips for working with difficult people?

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Quick Answer

Some tips for dealing with difficult people include imposing a time limit for venting, listening to negative comments but not staying silent, not agreeing with them and attempting to problem solve. Difficult people often enjoy complaining and seek encouragement, but these strategies can help diffuse their irritability.

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Full Answer

Everyone needs occasional time to vent, but it's important to draw a distinction between healthy venting and unhealthy complaining. Give difficult people some time to air their grievances, but not all the time, and for no more than a couple of minutes. If the negativity goes beyond a couple of minutes, attempt another technique to deal with the person.

It's important to actually listen to difficult people's negative comments and not try to tune them out completely. Someone who perceives that no one is paying attention to their complaints may become more frustrated and complain louder or more angrily. At the same time, listening without responding may convince a difficult person that a listener is in agreement. It's important to speak up and actually address the person's complaints. Additionally, be sure not to agree with the person simply just to placate him.

Expressing disagreement with a complainer can open the door to problem solving. Difficult people are often negative due to feelings of powerlessness. Although it isn't always effective, attempting to help them solve their problems may both empower them and cut down on future negativity.

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