Difficult People: 3 Things You Must Know!

“The person who constantly angers you or frustrates you…controls you.” Colleen Kettenhofen

Do you know any difficult people? Have you ever worked or lived with a difficult person? Are YOU a difficult person?! It’s amazing how many participants in my leadership training will come up to me at the end of a program on, “Dealing with Difficult People,” or “Dealing with Difficult Employees,” and confide to me, “Colleen, I think sometimes I’m a difficult person and just realized it today!” Well, we can all be difficult people from time to time. But what do you do with the person who is chronically difficult? A key component to life balance is learning to deal with difficult people. There will always be difficult people. Here are three important points to remember.

  • 1) All behavior has a positive intention – even with difficult people.
  • 2) Low self-esteem is often at the root cause of why people are difficult.
  • 3) You can’t always please everybody.

1) All behavior has a positive intention. Take for example the gossip. When someone comes into your office gossiping about everyone else, who are they trying to make look better? Themselves. That is their positive intention. As a matter of fact, while you are reading this article, what do you think the difficult people/gossips are doing in your office? Gossiping about YOU! I’m just kidding. Sort of.

I don’t think gossips realize that when they gossip to you about everyone else, you are probably thinking, “I wonder what they say about ME when I’m not around?” Remember, they have a positive intention. Strange as it may sound, they are trying to make themselves look better.

What about whiners and complainers? If someone comes to you complaining and whining about how much work they have to do, or how overloaded they are, what are they looking for? They’re looking for empathy, sympathy. Or, these difficult people are looking for you to do the work for them. That’s their positive intention. Now, we all have times when we’re overloaded and feeling overwhelmed. But I’m talking about the real whiners and complainers. Those you might label “emotional vampires” because they just suck the life out of you.

What about snipers? Believe it or not, even these difficult people have a positive intention. They are the difficult people who throw little digs your way in the hopes of rattling your cage and ruffling your feathers. What’s their positive intention? To make themselves look better. And, they think that by cutting you down, especially in front of others, that they’ll look better. For example, in an open work area, a sniper might walk by and within earshot of others say to you, “Well, there goes Shelly, on her 100th personal phone call of the day!” AND, you weren’t even on a personal phone call!

These snipers are the same difficult people who after cutting you down and insulting you, will say, “Oh, you just have no sense of humor.” They’re trying to put it all back on you. Really though it’s about them and their own insecurities. Which brings me to the second main point in dealing with difficult people.

2) Low self-esteem. A lot has been written and talked about regarding self-esteem and self-confidence. It almost seems ridiculous quite frankly. For example, every child on a team winning a trophy even though they were on the LOSING team. All in the name of “self-esteem.” And yet, a lot of difficult people do suffer from low self-esteem. Not always, but often.

Only one out of every three American adults has high self-esteem, and we’re a pretty positive culture. But, only one out of three adults really has high self-esteem. Some of you may be thinking, “Well, I know it’s definitely not me!” That’s okay. It’s something you can work on. The point is, that with difficult people it’s not necessarily about you. You aren’t the problem. It’s about THEM. They’re the difficult person. (More later on making sure we’re not the difficult person!)

Low self-esteem often has its roots in childhood. It coulde be that the “difficult person” was teased by fellow classmates in school. This can result in one having a low opinion of themselves. You all know kids can be cruel. Sometimes it’s something a teacher or a parent said. Or being compared to Super Parent or a superstar sibling. Any number of things can cause low self-esteem. You don’t always know what’s going on with someone else and why they’re behaving the way they do.

Sometimes you can do all the right things and nothing works because they’re a difficult person who doesn’t want to change. Or, they haven’t been held accountable for needing to change. So remember, focus on the part you can control – you.

3) You’re not always going to please everyone. You won’t always please everybody so get rid of the notion that you will. We can’t always worry about what “everyone” else thinks of us.

Dr. Daniel Amen has what he calls the 18-40-60 rule. The 18-40-60 rule is: When you’re 18 years old, you worry about what everyone is thinking of you. When you’re 40, you don’t care anymore what everyone thinks of you. And when you’re 60, you realize nobody’s been thinking about you at all! How true is that?! The older we get we realize “everybody” isn’t thinking about us.

Also, don’t be a person who tends to dwell. For example, have you ever been in a situation where a week after your encounter with the difficult person you’re still stewing about them, thinking about them, and dissecting what was said? Remember, the person who constantly angers you…controls you.

Keep a pad of paper along with a pen in your car. Anytime you’re afraid you’re going to say something you’d regret, especially if you’re a manager or supervisor, go out to your car during a break. I realize many of you are so busy you don’t even know what a break is anymore! Seriously, though, write down everything you’d like to say, that you never could say. When you arrive home, tear it up, or burn it. Throw it away.

Be careful, too, of the words you use. Avoid absolutes. For example, don’t say, “You always” and “You never.” It will only put that difficult person further on the defensive. I once role played with a gentleman in one of my leadership trainings, and I said “John, you never do the work. You’re always expecting everyone around here to do your work!” He looked at me, pointed and said, “You sound like my wife!” Everyone roared with laughter.

Even major corporations have to be careful that their slogans get translated properly into foreign languages. For example, it’s been said that Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi generation,” translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave” in Chinese. Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken,” was translated into Spanish as, “It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate!”

In conducting leadership training, especially when discussing dealing with difficult people or difficult employees, I sometimes have my participants take the following pledge.

“On my honor, I promise, when dealing with a difficult person, that I will bite my tongue and count to 10. Because if I don’t, I may say something that I will LIVE to regret!”

Colleen Kettenhofen is a speaker, workplace expert, & co-author of “The Masters of Success,” as featured on the Today Show, along with Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield. For more free articles and e-newsletter, or to order the book visit http://bouncebackhigher.com/ Topics: leadership, management, difficult people, public speaking. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions and seminars. (971)212-2412. http://bouncebackhigher.com/

How a Credit Professional Can Have More Conversations that Count

What type of impression are you leaving? How effective are your communication skills? As you either thumb through your daily planner or scan through your smart phone, review your recent interactions. Did any of the following issues arise?

  • You were asked to speak up or repeat yourself
  • Your message was misunderstood
  • You couldn’t get the full attention of your audience
  • You didn’t get the results or reactions you had anticipated
  • You didn’t make the sale or close the transaction

These phenomena are quite common in the course of the typical business day. What causes these missed opportunities? Usually the missed opportunity stems from one of the following communications flaws:

  • Speaking too rapidly
  • Speaking with too low of a volume level
  • Slurring your words or mumbling
  • Speaking in a tone that lacks confidence, interest, or authority
  • Failing to organize your thoughts before speaking
  • Lacking eye contact or other non-verbal body language to support your message
  • Speaking too much and listening too little

Whether it’s nervous energy or just bad habits, the results are the same. Your message is not understood as you intended. Improving your communication skills takes time and practice. Even the best speakers benefit from rehearsal and preparation!

  • If you are preparing for an important call or conversation, take a few minutes to jot notes and
    organize your thoughts. Locate a mirror and smile as you speak on the phone.
  • If you find yourself speaking rapidly, try emphasizing the pronunciation of important words. Give the listener something to remember.
  • Ask questions! Check to see if your message is being understood by the audience.
  • Practice presentations in front of a mirror. Make sure your gestures and body language match your intentions.

Great communication skills set you apart from the rest of the pack. If it is worth saying, it is worth being understood.

About the Author

Accent On Business founder and CEO Ellen Dunnigan is a nationally-recognized voice and speech coach for business professionals. She is specially trained in voice, speech, and English improvement. For more information
or to schedule an interview or assessment with Dunnigan, call (317)843-2983 or visit her website at http://www.AccentOnBusiness.net

CMA Holiday Hours

In an effort to allow for our staff to spend time with their families during the holiday season, the CMA offices will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and we’ll be open until noon on New Year’s Eve and closed New Year’s day. The office will be open during normal hours Monday through Friday on all days except for those.

From everyone at Credit Management Association, we wish you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season, and look forward to serving you in 2016.

The Power of Friendliness in Business Communication

By Marcel Wiedenbrugge

It must have been about 13 years ago that I was spending a long weekend with my scuba diving buddies. I remember one evening, I had a discussion about the stupidity of many people working in customer service and how they annoyed me. “Every time I explain something to them, it seems as if they do not want to understand what the issue is…it drives me crazy, etc, etc”.

While I was ranting, one of my friends interrupted my heated monologue and said: “I don’t agree with your approach.” His comment triggered my curiosity, so I asked him: “What approach would you suggest then?”

So he told his story that he worked as a project engineer in the chemical industry, when he was responsible for the construction of large chemical plants. Part of his responsibilities involved managing foreign personnel. Unfortunately, his instructions were apparently not always thoroughly understood. That led to mistakes, and to co-workers who seemed quite consistently not willing to learn from their mistakes. This annoyed him so much that it started to impact his mood and health.

One day he told his wife about it and they started to think and talk how he could solve this problem. He told me that took him three months to come up with an answer. By now, I was really drawn into this story, so I asked: “Well, what was your solution?” His answer was: “Friendliness.”

He continued: “From that moment on, I decided to apply friendliness in every situation I encounter in both my professional and private life. The results where astonishing. Not only did I achieve much better results, but this had a great positive impact on my mood, and my health. Even better, I have found that people almost in any situation are willing to walk the extra mile to help me.”

I was amazed by his story. I thought about it for the rest of the weekend. Somehow, it all made sense. So I said to myself: “Let’s give ‘friendliness’ a try for one week. If it works, I will continue to use it.”

After one week, I was amazed by the results of being consistently friendly. Both colleagues and customers were much more willing to collaborate. Calls did not escalate, and my mood was improving as well. From that moment, I decided to use friendliness as a default professional approach and I have never regretted doing so.

As an author of the book “Happy Customers Faster Cash,” friendliness is one of the 33 suggestions we offer, so I’d like to quote from it:
“Once you choose to make friendliness your default attitude, in daily practice you will notice that friendliness:

  • is actually the best ‘weapon ‘ to win almost any argument
  • is by far the best attitude to keep and maintain good customer relationships
  • will help you to feel better about yourself, your work and doing so will keep you more in control in almost any situation
  • will contribute to a good working environment with your colleagues and being friendly isn’t hard to learn to do, although it should be a part of you or your character and come from within. Friendliness can’t be faked and if you do try to ‘fake it’ people will notice.

We can conclude that friendliness as a default attitude benefits you as a person, your team, your performance, your customers and your organization.”

As the saying goes, the best advice is for free. Usually that is not the case, but here I would definitely recommend all of you with “frustration/anger” issues, to try consistent friendliness just for one week. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Marcel is the co-author of “Happy Customers, Faster Cash” USA Edition, available at amazon.com.

Understanding your Customers, by Michael C. Dennis

Michael C. DennisHow many different types of customers do you have? The way I see it, the credit department has at least three customers:  (1) The Sales Department, (2) their Company’s Senior Management, and (3) The Customer.  Business gurus may differ in opinions and approaches to customer focus and customer orientation, but these truths about customers are timeless:

  • Customers have choices.
  • Customers have expectations.
  • Customers have influence.
  • When your customer has a request or a problem, they expect your response to be timely.
  • Customers expect to interact with knowledgeable and professional credit team members, and that the information they receive will be accurate and helpful.

Do you know what your Customers want?  Do you provide everything they need?  Can you provide better or faster service to your internal customers [meaning to Sales and Senior Management]?  If so, when will you start doing so?  And is there any reason you cannot start today?

As always, I welcome your feedback as well as your questions, comments and constructive criticism.

Michael is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit (www.encyclopediaofcredit.com), a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals.  He is a consultant, and the author of “Credit and Collection Forms and Procedures Manual” as well as a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events.  He can be contacted at 949-584-9685.