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Why Labeling "Difficult People" May Stunt Your Growth

collaboration de-escalation effective communication staff communication

There are a lot of classes about how to "Deal with Difficult People," and I am concerned that will not lead to effective communication or de-escalation. Though I realize the title may be a marketing ploy, just the assumptions within the title raise doubts about how effective they can be. And if that is a ploy, then it points to the fact that other people are using that term to identify their problem.  But are there really "difficult people" in the world? I mean, is that all they are? Or is the use of that label allowing us to get lazy in our response, making our results mediocre at best, not to mention dangerous at worst?

Terms like that suggest other people are the only issue and we can only deal with the people, but that is far from the truth.  We can respond in the heat of the moment, and the best response will probably involve collaborating. In fact, that is the epitome of effective communication and de-escalation, not to mention staff communication. Before we can do that, though, we need more perspective and a better grasp on what the real problem is.

When we can identify a specific problem, to where we can define it in a nutshell, then we can put it in perspective, look at the "not problem" (Technical term!), and find new choices. But first we need to define the problem clearly, with good strong boundaries, accuracy, and clarity to discover the best choices for response. It is well worth taking the time to identify the real problem in order to see the possible responses.

Labeling the other person and leaving it at that doesn't resolve the problem, but can give you a false sense of closure. Whatever is challenging you in that situation will probably recur. It becomes like an "In Your Face Production" with reruns featuring you as the protagonist. SPOILER ALERT! It ends the same way until you choose a different response. Next time that show comes on, change the channel. You can ask better questions, collaborate, and make new choices so that you can be a hero, reap the benefits, and play a major role in the next season. The first step is to consider the feedback the person is offering without judging them or taking it personally.





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