How To Get Along With Difficult People


Assume Positive Intent

We live in a world where respect is not the default setting for many people in many situations. Whether in traffic or social media, we see a lot of inherent negativity. I’ve said before that “assuming positive intent” is an important leadership practice. If you go into a conversation or negotiation or even a difficult performance evaluation with that assumption? I think you’ll get better results.




Start with Respect

Why is that? Because respect reveals more pathways to shared success. Even with someone I find irritating or difficult, I can’t assume that their intentions are bad or contrary to mine. We may disagree. Even strongly. We may have very different styles and methods for approaching challenges. But as soon as I disrespect them, it means I’ve rejected solutions that might serve us both well.

That question—how to identify a path to better outcomes—is at the heart of this “Aim Higher” discussion about how to deal with difficult people. We know that getting along with people is a key skill for success at work. For the most part, we all want to get along. We don’t like to be seen as difficult to deal with, contrary or irritating. Nevertheless, when it happens, moving forward with respect can mean the difference between improving or saving a relationship or project, and simply giving in to frustration.



Our panel of experts examined several difficult situations in this episode. But, in every case, we all have the intention of making things better. And, in none of the cases, does that involve simply meeting bad behavior with more bad behavior.

What do you do in your life or workplace when confronted by difficult people? Tune in to see if your thoughts match with ours. My guests, as always, provide some great, actionable ideas on how to find a path through this thorny thicket.

Listen to the episode.




The secret, one-word mantra for improving relationships with difficult people: respect.


Image Credit: tiago-felipe-ferreira

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