Communicating with Difficult People:
1. Communication boils down to your ability to convince another person of the
importance of your issue-that’s it! Your ability to sell someone on your idea!
2. Usually, however, it is in how we attempt to sell others on our issue that tends to make
the “sale” break down; approach each encounter in a calm fashion-there is nothing
worth upsetting yourself over!
3. Respect others’ personal space-a good two feet away from one another.
4. Use “open” body language with an open stance-arms uncrossed; It is critical to use
good eye contact-convey sincerity and respect.
5. State your concern using “I” statements…”I am upset over how you spoke to me
about the Smith Company project.” Or “I really need your help-I’m a bit frustrated
with how things went in the meeting an hour ago-it upset me when you told the team
6. Allow the other party to respond…..really listen to them. Use reflective listening-
i.e. if the person appears confused by your statement, say so: “You look confused by
what I just said” or “Help me understand where you are coming from?” This conveys
that you are truly following them.
7. It is important that, even though you are initiating the conversation, to encourage
the other person to respond, i.e., “OK, tell me more” or “Is there anything else you
need to tell me.” This shows that you are not dominating the conversation.
8. The key to convincing another person of your issue is your ability to remain
focused, assertive, and sincere.
9. If the person does not own responsibility with the situation in question, use the
“broken record” method of returning to your original concern: “I hear what
you’re saying, however, I am still upset by what you said in the
meeting-it really threw me off and made me feel like there is some sort
of miscommunication about the project goals.”
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