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Dealing with Difficult People
By Kerry Wills

Every place I have worked at has their share of “difficult” people. These are people who seem to enjoy making everyone else around them miserable. They yell, they berate others, and they look to find fault in everything. To top it all off, somehow they even move up the management chain and get into positions of power.

I have found several techniques to work with difficult people.

  1. Maintain composure – The worst thing that a PM can do is to react to a situation, which will empower the difficult person even more. Stay calm.
  2. Learn what sets them off – Hopefully there are others who can advise on triggers, otherwise it becomes a (painful) learning process. Identifying these triggers will allow you to tailor your approach to be conscious of them.

  3. Focus on the facts – People have a hard time debating the facts and this way the conversation focuses on that versus the people themselves.

  4. Play to their egos – While this sort of condones their behavior, playing to their egos is usually a good way to gain their support.

Not sure what other techniques people have but please share them. As long as we have to work with people, there will always be difficult people and we will have to deal with them.

Kerry Wills is a proven Program Manager/Portfolio Manager with an extensive background in Project Management, consulting, and application development. Kerry has consistently demonstrated the ability to plan and implement large and complex projects on time and on/under budget. Kerry runs a blog, Adventures in Project Management.

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