How to deal with difficult people - Timothy Dimoff


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If your job involves communicating with employees under difficult circumstances, you have probably encountered aggressive or uncooperative people. Handling these situations competently can help you get the results you need rather than an ugly confrontation. Join i-Sight and Timothy Dimoff for a free one-hour webinar: How to Deal with Difficult People.

During this webinar you will learn;

Aggressive versus assertive behavior
The difference between reacting and responding
Stages of aggression
De-escalating aggression
Things never to say to someone
How to speak “Peace Language”

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How to deal with difficult people - Timothy Dimoff

  1. 1. How to Deal With Difficult PeopleTimothy
  2. 2. IntroductionTimothy DimoffTimothy Dimoff, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., isa speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority on high-risk workplace andhuman resource security and crime. He is a Certified Protection Professional, acertified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training, a member ofthe Ohio and International Narcotic Associations, the Ohio and NationalSocieties for Human Resource Managers, and the American Society forIndustrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis incriminology, from Denison University.Joe GerardJoe Gerard is the VP of Sales & Marketing at i-Sight, a leading provider of web-based case management software for corporate investigations. He’s workedwith companies like Dell, Coke, Allstate, BP and more than 100 others toimplement improved investigative processes that leverage best practices andcase management.
  3. 3. The Reality of Life Rage• Tension, violence, bullying,rage and negativeencounters exist in allaspects of daily life• We live in a 24/7 “pressurecooker” society• Abnormal behavior has nowbecome the norm
  4. 4. Objectives• Aggressive vs. Assertive Behavior• Reacting vs. Responding• How we communicate• Causes of outbursts
  5. 5. Objectives• Stages of aggression• De-escalating aggression• Things never to say to someone• Verbal judo• Speaking “Peace Language”
  6. 6. ConfrontationIs confrontation aninevitable part ofyour job?
  7. 7. Employees/Customers ExpectManagers to Have…• Communication skills• Listening skills• Interpersonal skills and compassion• Professionalism• Community awareness
  8. 8. Tipping the Scale…• Reason vs. Emotion–When a person is reasonable they areless emotional and reactive–When a person is emotional andreactive, they are less reasonable• GOAL: reduce emotion to regainreasonableness
  9. 9. ReasonableReactive
  10. 10. ReasonableReactive
  11. 11. Be the ModelAssertive Behavior:When one individual is able tocommunicate their needs, desires, andexpectations while still respectinganother individual’s rights.
  12. 12. Aggressive vs. AssertiveBehaviors…• Aggressive managers/supervisorsRE-act to events.• Assertive managers/supervisors RE-spond to events
  13. 13. REacting vs. REsponding• When upset, people never say what theymean!• When a manager reacts to the words,he/she is incapable of responding to theunderlying meanings.• When we REact, the “act” controls us.• When we REspond, we re-answer,suggesting control and assertiveness
  14. 14. Benefits of REspectIf we treat people well when they do nothandle themselves well……
  15. 15. How We Communicate is Key• Although we communicate verbally—wealso communicate non-verbally.• Vocal tone and body language contributesignificantly to the message you send.• You can say the right thing—but if youcome off meek or hostile, your words maynot achieve the desired outcome.
  16. 16. Don’t Confuse Sympathy withEmpathySympathy means to share feelings.Empathy is when you momentarilystand in another’s shoes.TACTICAL EMPATHY is a strategic skillmanagers/supervisors must learn and practice.
  17. 17. The Stages of AggressionStage 1: Initial tension andfrustrationHelp person vent, reflect on the situationand devise their own solution.Stage 2: Verbal AttackEmotion begins to overwhelm reason andthey go on the offensive with verbalattacks
  18. 18. The Stages of AggressionStage 3: Loss of ControlIndividual loses control over their angerand are close to acting out through violentbehaviors.
  19. 19. Your Best Response?Deny aggressor what he/she seeks:When you deny the aggressor the fearresponse...…the threat’s potency withers.
  20. 20. Your Best Response?Many people think it best to ignore thecomment. But that suggests fear.Do not laugh it off, or counter with a threatof your own. Such responses oftenmotivate an escalation.Your best response should suggestconfidence—not fear.
  21. 21. What Happens to YOU?When someone is angry at you……many people tend to get angry rightback.Or...…your mind goes blank so you can’tthink of what to say or do.
  22. 22. De-escalating AggressionStep 1: Identify Yourself• If a first-meeting, offer your first name.• It demonstrates confidence.• Establishes the beginnings of rapport. You are aperson—not an organizational figurehead.• Find out who’s confronting you—ask for theother person’s name.• If you get it—use it.
  23. 23. De-escalating AggressionStep 2: Hear Them Out• People who are upset want to be heard. Letthem say their piece.• Let them vent, scream and rant. When finishedyou are more likely to engage in a reasonableconversation.• However—if the person has a violent history,or intuition tells you the situation is escalating—you may need to take a different approach.
  24. 24. De-escalating AggressionStep 3: Paraphrase• If you can, quote the person exactly.• Open with something like: “Let me be sure Iunderstand what you said.”• Include an emotional component—but avoidaggressive words ( use “frustrated” not “angry”).
  25. 25. De-escalating AggressionStep 4: Explain Your Position• You ask the person to do what you want.• Tighten the noose with the “yes set.”– 2 to 3 yeses to set the tone– A fact– Your request
  26. 26. De-escalating AggressionStep 5: Explain Positive Options• By nature, people are self-centered—so exploit it.• Describe 2 or 3 positive reasons why the personshould cooperate.• Then make your request again.
  27. 27. De-escalating AggressionStep 6: Explain Negative Options• This step highlights what the person stands tolose by not cooperating.• Psychologically, people are often moremotivated to avoid loss than gain reward.• Identify 2 to 3 negatives.• Turn the tables: “You tell me, what do youthink will happen if we can’t resolve thesituation?”
  28. 28. De-escalating AggressionStep 7: Last Chance• Give the person one final opportunity tocooperate.• “Is there anything I can say or do that will getyou to cooperate?”
  29. 29. How to Work Face-to-FaceDo:• Work on being respectful. Even if the person isinsulting you, they may just need to vent.• Even when being yelled at: maintain poise andself-control. Keep voice low and calm.• Be matter of fact. Use short, simple statements.• Keep hands in view—at sides or slightly out tothe side.
  30. 30. How to Work Face-to-FaceDo:• Set guidelines on behavior.• Allow a person to yell—but let them know threatsare not allowed.• Tell them you understand why they are angry.• Give person ample time to vent. It does not hurtyou and can help them.• However, if a person seems to get moreaggressive by their words, try to calm themdown!
  31. 31. Understand Predisposition Factors• Why is the person behaving in thismanner?– Are they just angry at the situation—or do theyneed something in particular?– Does person have mental illness?• Are drugs or alcohol involved? If so, beespecially watchful of the person!
  32. 32. Understand Predisposition Factors• Understanding reasons for the person’sanger is essential to helping them find asolution.• We can always help them accomplishsomething!– It may not be what they initially want, but try tohelp them find some relief.• These factors are vital in preparing for apotentially violent episode.
  33. 33. Don’t Do This!• Do not make sudden movements.• Do not use threats or sharp commands—this will further exacerbate the situation!• Do not challenge a person—verbally orphysically.
  34. 34. Don’t Do This!• Do not argue, criticize or be judgmental oftheir situation, even if you think someoneshould.• Always remain calm. You are the one whocan diffuse the potentially dangeroussituation.
  35. 35. Don’t Do This!• Don’t make promises you cannot keep.– Be upfront with information, but find anothersolution to present before delivering bad news.– This helps the person see you understandhis/her problem and want to help.• Don’t take anger personally.
  36. 36. Don’t Do This!• Avoid joking or laughing in an angryperson’s presence or showing signs ofbeing impatient.• Don’t use statements such as:– “You need to sit down, calm down, and stopyelling.” This fuels the fire.
  37. 37. How to Protect Yourself• Do not touch an angry person.• Do not invade their personal space—provide atleast 4 feet of space.• Give the person an escape route that does notinvolve coming close to you (they may knock youdown getting out).
  38. 38. Verbal JudoSeven things never to say to anyoneand why!
  39. 39. Verbal Judo“Hey you! Come here!”• To you, “come here” means “Over here.You are under my authority.”• To the person, it means: “Go away quickly!”
  40. 40. Verbal Judo“Hey, calm down!”• To the person, it is a criticism of theirbehavior.• Suggests they have no legitimate right to beupset.• Not only is there the problem they wereupset about—now they need to defend theirreaction to you.
  41. 41. Verbal JudoInstead gently say…• “It’s going to be all right. Talk to me. What’sthe matter?”• Softens person up to talk.• “Calm down” hardens their resistance.
  42. 42. Verbal Judo“I’m not going to tell you again!”• Repetition is weakness.• Places you in position where you must act.
  43. 43. Verbal JudoInstead say…• “Sir, is there anything I could say that wouldget you to do A, B, and C? I’d like to thinkso.”• If answer is “no”, we act while individual isstill talking. We do not threaten people, butwe do act when verbal persuasion fails.”
  44. 44. Verbal Judo“Be more reasonable!”• Everyone believes they are beingreasonable given present circumstances.• You only invite conflict.
  45. 45. Verbal JudoInstead say…• “Let me see if I understand your position.”• Paraphrase their response in your ownwords.• This will calm them because your words willbe more professional and less emotional.
  46. 46. Verbal Judo“Because those are the rules!”Or…“Because that’s the law!”• The phrase irritates people and puts you ina position of weakness.
  47. 47. Verbal JudoInstead…• Tell people why.• At least 70% of resistant or difficult people willdo what you want if you just tell them why.• You establish ground to stand on and give theother good reason for complying—not justbecause you said so.
  48. 48. Verbal Judo“What’s your problem?”• This useless phrase puts the problem backon the person needing assistance.• Nobody likes to admit he/she has aproblem.
  49. 49. Verbal JudoInstead…• Substitute tactical phrases designed to softenand open someone up, like...– “What’s the matter?”– “How can I help?”– “I see you’re upset, let me suggest…”
  50. 50. Verbal Judo“What do you want me to do about it?”• A sarcastic question.• An evasion of your responsibility.• You now have two problems: the original oneand the one you just created by appearing toduck responsibility.
  51. 51. Verbal JudoInstead…• Offer to help sort out the problem andwork out a solution.• Insult strengthens resistance and shutsthe eyes.• Civility weakens resistance and opensthe eyes!
  52. 52. Speaking “Peace Language”• “Peace Language” is professional becauseit enhances opportunities for achievingvoluntary compliance.• Masks inner feelings that might be naturallynegative.• Language that stimulates conflict isunprofessional.
  53. 53. Speaking “Peace Language”• Become expert at finding ways to helpothers save personal face.• How you deal with confrontation will beeasier if you learn how to handle it in anassertive manner.• If you can help someone save face—youalmost never have to fight them!
  54. 54. End Result…The professional manager/supervisoranticipates trouble and moves to prevent it……rather than expecting it and provokingtrouble.
  55. 55. QuestionsIf you have any questions, please submit them now.Thank you for taking the time to attend today’s webinar.If you have any questions about the information covered in the webinar,please contact:Joe Gerardjgerard@i-sight.comTimothy