Archive for December, 2008


Monday, December 29th, 2008

Begin with the end in mind.  If you are going to have a conversation or confrontation with your difficult person about what the problem is, you had better enter this discussion with a solution in mind.

You will get nowhere if you just vent your frustrations.  You MUST have a solution in mind to the problem.  This does not ensure you will get your desired solution, however, just venting your frustration or anger is guaranteed to backfire.

As “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” teaches us, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Have your solution prepared. Know what you want and be able to clearly identify that to your difficult person.

Just saying “You are constantly interrupting me” is not a solution.  Asking them to stop interrupting you is a solution.

Shake it Up

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.  So this week, do something completely different!

Try “the look” without making any comment.  Perhaps completely ignoring the comment or the situation is what is in order.  Or, for those of you that do typically avoid any confrontation with your difficult person, maybe you just need to say “I don’t agree with you” or something do that isn’t avoidance. (rolling your eyes does not count!)

I won’t guarantee that this will make your difficult person less difficult.  I can guarantee that it will confuse them.

Don’t expect things to get better by doing the same thing over and over again.


Monday, December 15th, 2008

According to the dictionary, difficult people are those people who continually and chronically get in your way of you doing your job and living your life effectively.

Statistically, this is only 2% of the population.

Are you really dealing with a difficult person, or is it just conflict?  Conflict is tension in a relationship.  It isn’t quite the same as working with a difficult person.

Identify your person accurately.  If they really are difficult, then you must be 100% consistent with your approaches.  If it is conflict, there are times when everything appears fine, and you can relax a little more.

There is a big difference between the two – be sure you have labelled them correctly, and then take the appropriate approach.

Keep your Cool!

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Emotions are not your friend when they rule your interactions with your difficult person.  You need to be black and white, focused on the facts, calm, cool and collected.

It is in your best interest to NOT respond nor react when you are being ruled by your emotions.

Take time out.  Be sure to arrange a follow up with your difficult person when you can get some perspective, when you can be calm, focused and professional.

For my Canadian readers, our current political confusion has been ruled primarily by emotions.  Need I say more? 

Be professional, take time out, stay focused and keep your cool.

Strange techniques to help you keep emotions in check

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I’m a pretty private person. The ‘Rhonda’ I take to work is not the same ‘Rhonda I let my friends and family see. At work, I prefer not to show my emotions. I may be a big marshmallow in my personal life, but at work I don’t want those tears to flow. I don’t want to lose my cool and I never want to look nervous.

In discussing this with seminar participants, I’ve realized that I’m not alone, and that many people would prefer to keep control of their emotions in professional (and other) situations.

These tips may seem a bit odd. They do, however, work. I’ve tried them all and give them my personal stamp of approval.


When I get very angry or frustrated I will often be on the brink of tears. This frustrates me even more because the last thing that I want to do is cry at work. Try taking your pointing finger and pushing upwards against the base of the septum (the divider) in your nose. It will look like you are trying to squash a sneeze, and it does work. It even works in highly emotional situations. Recently I was at a funeral where I wanted to hold it together. I know that it’s perfectly acceptable to cry at funerals, but I didn’t even know the deceased, so I wanted to stop those tears from falling. I took my finger and pushed upwards on my nose. It worked.


There is nothing worse than your heart beating at 100 miles an hour, your mouth going dry, and the look of a deer in the headlights on your face. We’ve all been there. You can reduce your body’s natural ‘flight-or-flight’ reaction by getting control of your breathing. When panic sets in, we tend to hold our breath. When that happens, concentrate on breathing through your left nostril and then (on the next breath) through your right nostril. This won’t be noticeable to someone looking at you, but it will work.

Throat tickle
Just when you want to disappear into the wallpaper, isn’t that when your throat gets a tickle? Short of clearing your throat (and drawing unwanted attention to yourself), there seems to be nothing you can do about it. Until now! Do the Carol Burnett ear pull. Pull downward on your lobe. If you are wearing earrings, this is easy enough to conceal. Not only does it take your attention away from your throat tickle, it clears your throat. And no, I don’t know why.

Keeping your cool

When someone is pushing your buttons, it can be hard to stay in control. One way to keep your cool is to not look directly into the person’s eyes. Try looking at the space between their eyes, instead. This allows you to remain focused. This technique also works when speaking to someone who is wearing mirrored sunglasses, or who has a wandering eye.

Nighttime problem-solving

I had one of these nights recently. You’re up for hours solving all the problems of the world. It usually starts with the thought that, “If I had only…”. Sometimes it is incredibly hard to fall back to sleep after you’ve relived a horrible moment you had in the office during the day. When this happens, try wiggling your toes. Most people cannot wiggle their toes without thinking about it. When you are thinking about wiggling your toes, you can’t worry about your co-worker or anything else for that matter, and you will fall asleep.

Toe-wiggling also works in other places and situations – and it really is effective. At the funeral I was telling you about, I also wiggled my toes so I could focus on what was being said, rather than on my brain saying, “Don’t cry!” Combined with the nose raise, it worked quite well. It also works when you are trying to keep your cool with a co-worker and not tell her what is really on your mind. Listen to what your co-worker is saying and concentrate on wiggling your toes. You won’t have any brain power left to worry about what you are going to say.

If you have something a little strange that I haven’t listed here, I would love to hear it. Please send an e-mail to my attention and if we get enough of them we’ll include them in a future e-mail with more strange techniques on keeping our emotions under control.


Monday, December 1st, 2008

It will get worse

When you are dealing with your difficult person, you can expect that they will get worse before they get better.  This is a good sign.

We are all familiar with the old saying “If you keep on doing what you always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”  We know that with our difficult person, we have to do something different.  We know that we want to “push” them out of their normal/regular response to do something different (and hopefully less difficult). 

You can expect that as you practice different responses, or different strategies, that you will confuse your difficult person.  That confusion (or lack of a payoff on their part) will require them to do something different. 

Expect that what they do will be to increase their “difficultness” (I realize that isn’t a real word).  This means that what you are doing is actually working, don’t give in, keep on-the-right-track.

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