Do the difficult people you lead or work with get worse or better when you deal with them in some way? It sure seems like they should improve, but there’s this old adage that stands out in my mind that makes me think the answer to that question might be different than we both want to believe.
People do what they get paid attention to for doing. Hmmm… So if I as the leader of a team spend all of my time dealing with someone’s difficulty, meaning I spend most of my time focused on how to help them or coaching them or giving them expectations and boundaries and consequences, then I’m actually paying more attention to their difficulty and making it worse??
Difficult as it may be and unless the situation warrants immediate attention or poses physical harm, your best course of action for many of the behaviors and people we call difficult, might be to ignore them. This is not a good long term strategy, but in the initial demonstration the more fuel you give the issue, the bigger it gets…particularly if the goal is to get your attention.
So, though it might be counter intuitive and though it might just chap you completely to have to ignore someone who is pushing your buttons with their behavior, remember that in some cases, the first course of action might best be acting as if they and their behavior don’t exist.
It’s one thing to know how to lead well and to manage yourself. It’s quite another to train all those you lead to do it for their teams. If you are struggling with conflict, team formation, and productivity in your office, there is a one day conference coming up in April that might be of interest to you or your team. It’s called How DO We Deal with Difficult People and will reveal many tips, skills, and insights that will change those who participate interact with others. Read more…