Managing Difficult People & Situations in the Workplace

Managing Difficult People and Situations in the Workplace

Brought to you by Rosy King @ Corporate Training Options


Tips to handle difficult situations in the workplace

Would you like to remain calm, defuse conflict, and keep your dignity when managing difficult people and situations at work?

Below are some great tips from our handling difficult people and situations training course,  that you can put into action today.


Use the LEAD model when managing difficult peopleUse the LEAD Model 


Attentive listening is the first step to recognising and handling difficult situations and people. Every one of us wants to feel valued, understood, and heard.


The best course of action in exploring why someone is being awkward, is to listen and let them speak.

Telling them to calm down is not the best move, even though your instincts may be telling you to say that to them.

A better course of action is to remain calm no matter what is said and to not take it personally.  That way, you’ll avoid saying things you wish you hadn’t, in the heat of the moment.


Jim Rohn has a fantastic quote, which says  “Wherever you are, be there.”

This is a great principle to apply when you’re dealing with a difficult situation or person.  Focus only on attending to that person and their situation. Whether it is an upset customer over the phone, face-to-face, or by email.

By attending to the person and being present, you’ll more quickly gain an understanding of their problem and be able to start thinking about delivering a solution.

Deliver a solution

Delivering a solution may not always be as easy as you think.  The answer will depend on the person, the complexity of the problem or situation, and whether or not you have the authority or resources to solve the problem for them.

A great place to start is by telling the person you’re going to try to fix it for them, and that you will contact them once their problem is solved.

These understanding words will help soothe the savage beast and also help defuse conflict and hot tempers.


Turn Customer Complaints into Business OpportunitiesIf you can deliver the solution, provide it as quickly as you can.

If you can’t offer an immediate solution, let the person know you’ll speak with the people you need to, and advise them of the outcome.


Examine how your personal beliefs and values play into the way you deal with difficult people

Your personal beliefs and values play a big part in how you handle difficult people and situations. However, many of us never question our beliefs or values.

Most of us like to think we’re non-judgemental, open, and caring.  This is why self-assessment of your personal beliefs and values is challenging and, at times, a bitter pill to swallow.

Many of the beliefs and values you have now may have formed when you were a child.  You have carried these beliefs and values into adulthood, even though they no longer serve you.  They are out-dated or out of sync with who you are now and your current beliefs.

It’s critical to remember when you’re dealing with difficult people, that you’re engaging with a fellow human being. They have feelings, thoughts, and challenges of their own, even though at the moment they may not be rational.

And while your belief may be that they shouldn’t be taking it out on you, the reality is some people will take it out on you.


Ways to understand the personalities of difficult peopleHow can you assess the challenges of managing difficult people and situations and make the right decisions in each of those situations?

  • Remaining empathetic, honest, calm and assertive is one key
  • Thinking before you speak and using non-threatening words, tone and body language is another
  • Communicating in an inspiring and supportive tone is also important
  • You can focus on win-wins and positive outcomes as opposed to the focusing on the problem
  • Preparing to negotiate is another strategy you can use to deal with difficult people and situations
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep
  • And always think about what you are going to say before you say it, to avoid replying in anger or frustration.


These are just some of the strategies taken from our training course on handling difficult people and situations.  The key here is learning how to identify difficult situations and how to best action them so that you can make the right decisions for everyone involved.


Can you identify difficult people in terms of their characteristics and the rewards they get for behaving as they do?

We all have difficult people in our lives, and many of us would prefer not to engage with them. It could be a supervisor, a boss, a co-worker, a customer, or a spouse, but the fact is that difficult people and situations are part of our lives.

Some of the identities and characteristics of difficult people that we all come into contact with, and that each one of us has been at times, are:

  • Negative Nellies  – The characteristics and rewards negative nellies get is they are always happy to complain. They like to talk negatively, to talk at people instead of talking to them, and to put the blame on everyone else except themselves.


  • The Show Off  – These are people who sometimes go to great lengths to go one better than you.  The main characteristicsand rewards they get are letting you know about how they outdid you, name dropping, surpassing you at every opportunity and telling you about it.  In many cases, this behaviour is to mask their lack of self-confidence.


  • The ‘Whatever You Think’ character  – The characteristics of this personality are they don’t make any decisions at all.  They’re happy for you to make all the decisions, are passive, and give you one-word answers to questions.  This type of person is usually afraid, and the reward for them is removing themselves from not having to make a decision. They leave it all up to you, and if it’s the wrong decision, they are happy to blame you.


  • The ‘Control Freak’  – The core characteristic of this person is usually telling you how to do something and taking control of the situation, whether they know more about it than you, or not.  They can be extremely emotional, intimidating, rude and angry.  ‘Control Freak’ characters enjoy the gratification of taking control of people and situations because they believe if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!


Listen calmly, so you can understandOf course, identifying difficult people, their characteristics, and the rewards they believe they receive, is only half the equation.


The worst thing you can do once you have identified a difficult person’s character

The natural reaction when you can identify a problematic person’s character and the rewards they get for behaving as they do, is to try and change them.

Telling a ‘do whatever you think” person to speak up, puts them under more pressure.  Asking a person with a ‘control freak’ character to change, will make them even angrier.  So forget about trying to change people’s mindset and attitude because you’ll never change them.


A better strategy is to identify a difficult person’s character, then adapt your own thoughts, to better understand them.

The real skill and art in managing difficult people and situations is identifying the person’s character and adapting to understand them and their mindset.

While this is a big topic and requires specialist training, some of the ways you can achieve this is by:

  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Building rapport
  • Establishing trust with the person
  • And creating a meaningful conversation while being honest and sincere


CTO Training Courses - Teaching you essential skills for the workplaceIs professional training in managing difficult people and situations a good return on investment? 

Yes.  With professional training in handling difficult people and situations, your call centre teams and other employees, will have the skills to deal with difficult people and situations professionally and diligently.


We have a training course available for you, which covers handling difficult people and situations.

This course provides several beneficial learning outcomes, which include:

  • Being able to identify difficult people in terms of their characteristics and the rewards they get for behaving as they do
  • Examine how your personal beliefs and values play into the way you deal with difficult people
  • Identify the ‘sources of power’ your difficult people have over you, and the degree of difficulty posed by each one
  • Assess each difficult person to enable you to make a good decision about how to handle each situation you face
  • Identify tools to help you find the right words
  • You’ll also receive a process model to guide you through difficult interactions with uncommon grace and skill


Want to learn more about managing difficult people and situations?


If you’re ready to upgrade your skills to handle difficult people and situations, to provide powerhouse customer service, or you wish to tackle some new challenges, contact CTO today for friendly, professional advice.

We’ll discuss your specific needs and tailor a training course to suit your requirements.

Corporate Training Options