By Zlatica "ZK" Kraljevic

At any point in time, we all have to deal with insensitive and difficult people. Here is what to do:

Step 1 – Awareness

When somebody is annoying or driving you crazy, the first thing to do is to stop and think (I know, it’s hard under the circumstances). Ask yourself a few questions: Is this person driving everyone crazy? Are you inadvertently doing something to generate her/his reaction? Under what circumstances does this person behaves the way he/she does? 

Step 2 – Understanding

Next, focus on understanding their motives and interests: Do they have a hidden agenda? Are they acting in a particular way seemingly on purpose, perhaps publicly opposing your points of view to make you look bad.

Step 3 – Knowledge

Once you understand (or can make an educated guess about) their motives, initiate a dialogue, not with anger but with genuine curiosity to learn what is important to them; aim at finding out why they are being difficult; why are they doing “X”?

Step 4 – Internalization

Then use that knowledge to develop a solution, value proposition that addresses both your and their interest. Convey this message in an amicable way (in my experience, even the worst prima donnas react well when hearing a proposition that benefits them). Help them see and understand your proposal. Few people can resist the opportunity to gain something they value.

Step 5 – Practice

Incorporate and use this approach each time you encounter conflicting situations at work, with family or friends (Step 5 – Practice). Using this technique you can transform those that seem to oppose your views into supporters and even followers.

Recommended reading: “Borderless Leadership: Global Skills for Personal and Business Success.”