5 tips for dealing with difficult people


Ahhhh. We all know ‘em, don’t we? In fact, we’d bet a pretty penny that a specific someone or situation came to mind when you read the title of this article, right?

Whether it’s a colleague, a client or a stakeholder, there’s almost a 100% likelihood that you will, at some stage in your property management career, find someone difficult. Just as you wouldn’t expect to get on with everyone you meet in your social life, it would be unrealistic to expect you won’t encounter difficult people in your professional life as well.

The good news is that encountering difficult people doesn’t always have to mean disaster for your business relationships. We’ve focused in on five strategies that you can deploy to de-escalate potentially sticky situations with difficult people.

1. Remain calm

When you feel yourself responding emotionally to a person or situation, it’s really easy to let your feelings get the better of you. Instead of allowing your emotions to dictate your response, try taking some deep anchoring breaths. The time spent focusing on your breathing will enable you to break the circuit of knee-jerk responses, and allow you to engage with the person more mindfully.

2. Don’t take things personally

Remember, that rarely when you encounter difficult people in difficult situations is their frustration actually aimed at you. Naturally, if you’re in a confrontational dynamic, chances are the person’s words and actions will upset you. However, taking things personally and responding defensively can simply add fuel to the fire. Remember, this isn’t about you.

3. Put yourself in their shoes

Trying to see a difficult situation from another person’s perspective can be very tricky, especially when there’s emotion involved, but even just the attempt to look at what’s going on from a different perspective can bring you and the person you’re dealing with closer.

And remember: the reality is that we often know very little about what people are going through. If someone is behaving unreasonably, there’s a fair chance that there’s an anxiety or frustration that’s driving that. Be kind.

4. Actively listen

In reality, this is the number one tip for dealing with difficult people. Listen. And when we say listen, we mean really listen. Pin-your-ears-back-the-whole-way kinda listen. Don’t fall into the trap of simply hearing the gist of what the other person is saying while putting all of your mental energy in to thinking about your response. To ensure you demonstrate to the other person that you have indeed listened to them, try repeating back what you have heard to check you’ve understood.

If someone is behaving unreasonably, there’s a fair chance that there’s an anxiety or frustration that’s driving that. Be kind.
5. If all else fails, is this relationship worth it?

In particularly tricky situations, the best way forward can be to simply part ways with the client and accept that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t please everyone. The reality for property managers is that 10% of your clients can take up the vast majority of your time – sometimes it’s ok to politely withdraw from the relationship and focus your energy on delivering an even better service for everyone else.

What are your tips for dealing with difficult people? We’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comments on Facebook or below!

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