Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Difficult People

We, sometimes, have to deal with difficult people during meetings. They show aggressiveness and insolence - or, at least, we perceive their attitude as hostile. It's important to handle these situations up front in order to keep the team intact, decrease the opportunity for gossip and make everyone a little bit happier. It is important to remember that these people may actually have real issues that drive them to behave the way they do, that they believe their attitude is justified and that knowing their issues and trying to solve them could improve the atmosphere in the team. Other people may share the same feelings, although not expressed openly. Dealing with difficult people is also a great way to display leadership and drive by example.

I've sketched a small mind-map (work in progress) for this matter. It briefly scratches the subject and merely shows the attitude (ask for details) one leader might have when confronted with a difficult situation. Here it is:

In the end, it is important to remember that:
  1. Troublemakers may be people who care about the project but feel frustration
  2. They may have issues shared by others in the team
  3. Trouble-making may be a wrong way to attract attention
  4. Troublemakers may give you headaches in the future if not addressed properly early on
  5. The best way to ease them is to give them what they want, while evading the conflict triangle (victim-aggressor-rescuer):
    1. Be heard - some recognition
    2. Change something
  6. It is important to follow-up the conflict:
    1. Results
    2. Ask for feedback if the troublemaker was right
    3. Show him what went wrong and that he may have not behaved properly, although he was right
What do you think? How do you proceed?

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