One of the most successful executives I know deals with difficult personalities by establishing a win/win mind set at the beginning of every interaction. He walks into meetings and declares that no matter what difficulties or barriers emerge, he will find a way to create a win/win outcome. With win/win as the destination, this leader gives context to objections, emotional outbursts, and aggressive behaviors. He keeps the focus on finding areas of agreement.
You, too, can use a win/win approach when dealing with difficult people:
- Listen to what the other person is really saying (and not saying)
- Ask questions to uncover conscious and sub-conscious needs
- Don’t allow anyone to “push your buttons”
- Focus on the win/win destination to preempt emotional responses
- Rephrase other peoples’ points of view, and seek clarification of their positions to show that you really understand where they are coming from
- Calmly articulate your own needs, and share how what you need will help all of you reach the win/win destination