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Difficult People Workshops

Difficult People Videos from Roger Reece

Roger Reece discusses working with difficult people in this selection of clips from recent workshops and seminars. Roger explores in depth the communication-style clashes at the root of much of the interpersonal friction we endure; he outlines a variety of useful and practicable techniques to assuage or even eliminate these kinds of chronic personality conflicts. The content of the programs is both substantial and accessible, and the format is geared to maximise the involvement and engagement of every participant.

If you would like to see more of our programs in action, the Roger Reece Seminars channel on Youtube features dozens more videos showcasing many of the topics we cover in our training workshops and presentations.


Working with Difficult People
Conflict Management is a process of trying to bring about a greater ecology among diverse people. We all have unconscious habits of behavior, and we each have a frame of reference that is all our own. You can make a difference and be a help to every person you interact with, in all spheres of your life, if you can learn the skills to communicate effectively with them. Every time you engage in a conflict with a difficult or disruptive person, and you are able to improve - even a little bit - the way that you handle the situation, maintain composure and prevent yourself from being emotionally triggered, what you are doing is improving a set of skills that will help you in all future situations of conflict, no matter the context. And in every case where you blame the other person, where you lose respect for them, where you refuse to look critically at yourself and your attitude and you let yourself be triggered, what you are doing is reinforcing unconscious habits that will make it harder to have an impact in any future conflict.

Assertiveness Skills with Difficult People
Whatever field of work you are in, sooner or later you come up against a task you are not sure you'll be able to do. You are faced with an environment you've never encountered before, or you require new skills you'll have to pick up as you go along. There's a risk you could mess something up. Why is it that with some tough jobs, we roll up our sleeves and do the best we can, while with other hard tasks - like a person we find difficult to communicate with - we rationalize and don't get involved?

In large part, it's because of what falls within your comfort zone. You feel confident handling the hard work that comes along in your job, and you know that whatever the problem is, it will probably come up again. But a difficult person feels like a unique situation every time. You may have even decided that a person is 'impossible' to deal with, because you've tried and failed to work with them in the past. But you only failed because you don't have the skills. And you lack those skills only because you are inexperienced in facing those challenges. So how are you ever going to get the skills? Roll up your sleeves and do the best you can.

Difficult People Strategies
If you are having trouble communicating with a difficult person, you may actually be part of the problem. If you can manage to look at another person's behavior from an objective point-of-view as they interact with you, you can often discover certain behaviors in yourself - a particular facial expression, your tone-of-voice, body language - that for whatever reason are acting as triggers in the other person. And if you can change your behavior to avoid setting off those triggers, you stand a much better chance of repairing communication and restoring teamwork with a difficult person.

Bad Behavior, Good Intentions
There is often a big disconnect between intentions and behavior. The fact is, most people who engage in 'bad' behavior (bad as judged from the perspective of group ecology) have a positive intent to their actions, at least from their point of view. People can rationalize all sorts of behaviors, narrowing their frame to excuse their bad actions to themselves. Every one of us has told a 'white lie,' for example. And what is a white lie? A white lie is a lie you have rationalized. Is it possible that you could tell a 'mistruth' to someone, something you might only call an 'exaggeration' - but what would for the other person be nothing less than an out-an-out lie? Never make the mistake of judging another person's behavior by what it would mean if that behavior came from you. Forgive other people for not being you.

Disruptive Behavior Strategies
Have you ever said to somebody, "You make me so mad," or "I did that because you did this"? What you're really doing at that moment is rationalizing the domino-effect that takes place when one person's disruptive behavior causes an emotional reaction in another, leading to yet more disruptive behavior. Nobody can 'make' you mad! People only have behaviors - and you decide what you're going to do in response to that behavior. Just like every other person on the planet, you have an collection of emotional triggers that are all your own. To be an effective conflict manager, your duty is to figure out what your emotional triggers are and learn to manage them, in order not to be ruled by them in reaction to someone else's problem behavior.

Conflict Strategies
If your initial attempts to confront a disruptive behavior fail, you may have to modify your strategy in order to resolve the conflict. If someone in your sphere of influence has done something for which you feel you deserve an apology - if you have been engaged in a longstanding feud with a coworker, family member or friend - you may have to fall on the sword in order to progress with this person. Your first question to yourself, when you feel you have been wronged by someone else, should be, "Has my own behavior been stellar? Is there anything at all that I could apologize for?" You'll have very little success trying to force an apology from someone by blaming and criticizing them. But if you come them with humility and acknowledge your own bad behaviors, and honestly express your goal of reconciling and learning to work together, you are quite often able to sidestep their defensiveness and get them to open up too.


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