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  • Can you allow discussion and still keep control?
    Can you allow discussion and still keep control?
  • How are you coming across to your boss?
    How are you coming across to your boss?
  • Does your feedback help people change?
    Does your feedback help people change?
  • Are you getting the best out of your people?
    Are you getting the best out of your people?
  • Do you frequently get into arguments?
    Do you frequently get into arguments?
  • Are your conversations achieving what you want?
    Are your conversations achieving what you want?

Might your need to be more successful
at dealing with difficult or opinionated people
be met by this London UK based management training course
called Skills with People?

Yes if you agree with any of the following 

  • You hate confict and try to avoid it if you can.
  • But sometimes to avoid conflict you find yourself giving in to difficult or opinionated people.
  • You'd feel better if you could stand up for what you feel is right, but you need to know how to do it gracefully and without making things worse.
  • You don't seem to be able to deal successfully with difficult or opinionated people, and sometimes you don't see why you should have to.

What you'll take away from this course about dealing with difficult people or opinionated people

You'll have the understanding, skills and confidence to deal with difficult people or opinionated people in a way that gets through to them and gets the best out of them. We'll help you develop your emotional intelligence and gain useful insights into why people are difficult.

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Click here to listen to our conversation
Dealing with Difficult People - a demanding boss

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Free exploratory coaching session

INTERESTED?

If so, you can have a FREE exploratory coaching session. It'll give you a foretaste of what you can get from the course. You make no commitment to proceed beyond this until you're sure this training is relevant to your own particular need.

How to accept this offer

Simply contact us for a preliminary chat and to arrange your free exploratory coaching session. 

What this session will do for you

In this session we'll aim to give you something practical you can use right away that'll help you handle a difficult situation more successfully at work. All you need do to prepare for this session is think about the kinds of situations you want to be able to handle more successfully.

FAQs

You'll find answers to many of your questions about the content and method of this course under FAQs (in the main menu above).

How the skills you'll practise on this course
will make you much more successful at dealing with
difficult or opinionated people

What’s a constructive way of dealing with difficult people? 

Instead of trying to squash them, find out what’s behind their being difficult - what they really want. It may be that making trouble is their only way of drawing attention to a problem that needs to be addressed. Address the problem and they’ll probably have no more need to make trouble.

For dealing constructively with trouble makers you need to be good at listening with empathy. It's one of the two main skills we'll help you master.

Why are people ‘difficult’ or opinionated?

We can all be difficult when we’re under pressure. It’s human nature. When we feel bad, e.g., afraid, misunderstood, anxious, we automatically go into attack or defense mode, the fight or flight response. We become ‘difficult’. It’s a survival instinct. This doesn't only happening to the people you perceive as ‘difficult’. It’s what sometimes happens to you, too. Scratch the surface and we’re all similar in this respect.

When a human being’s negative emotions are aroused he tenses up, both mentally and physically. He becomes ‘difficult’. This means irrational, deaf to reason, closed minded, uncooperative, making complaints, dissenting, disagreeable, unreceptive, stubborn, aggressive, hostile, disruptive, resentful, discordant, angry, unwilling to change. He can’t help it. When he feels under threat his emotions are like an internal alarm system alerting him to protect himself – though he may not be aware of it.

The first step in dealing with difficult people is, instead of being afraid of them or angry with them, to be aware that they are in a defensive and self-protective state of mind. If you had the power to change their state of mind they'd no longer need to be difficult. You do have much more power to influence people's states if mind than you may have realised, and on this course we'll help you learn how to use it.

What keeps people in this ‘difficult’ or opinionated state of mind?

The answer is bottled-up emotion. The quickest way to help someone be less difficult is to help them discharge their pent-up emotional energy – express their feelings – let off steam. Animals don’t hold on to fear. They express it immediately by fight or flight, and it’s gone. They rapidly recover their ability to function. Human beings have the same set of instincts, but human society trains us to bottle up emotion, suppress it, hide it, deny it. The result is we often get stuck in a difficult and dysfunctional frame of mind.

When you're dealing with difficult people how can you change their state of mind?

The answer is – you can help them let off steam. How can you do this? Not by arguing, but by listening with empathy. This isn't easy to do, because when people are difficult with us the natural impulse is to be difficult back. So you may need coaching, and that’s what we can give you on our course.

But below, in a nutshell, are some simple guidelines about how to do it. Why not start experimenting with it the next time you have to deal with a difficult person?

But doesn’t this approach clash with what society teaches us?

This approach certainly goes against the grain for many of us, because we have been brought up to fear and suppress feelings: "There, there, don't cry", "Pull yourself together", "Let's be rational – let's not get emotional". Behind these common phrases is a belief that there is something wrong with admitting and expressing feelings, that the more we express a bad feeling the worse we feel, that if we stop expressing it we will feel better, and that the best way to stop people being irrational is to discourage them from expressing feelings.

But like many of the beliefs that hold us back from expressing ourselves, this is a mistake. Much nearer the truth is the following: Bottling up feelings makes us less, not more, rational. The more we can admit and express feelings the more rational we are able to be. If we want to influence and persuade people who are being difficult and resistant - if we want to make them more receptive to new ideas and to change – we need to encourage them to express their feelings and let off steam.

Here's a set of simple practical guidelines...
... about how to listen with empathy when you are dealing with difficult people or opinionated people

Pay very close attention to the person you're trying to influence. Try to identify and reflect back as accurately as you can the following three things:-

  • How they feel (Try to name their feeling, e.g., “You don’t look too happy,” “I imagine you must be frustrated”, “You seem upset/angry”.)
  • What the feeling is about (What specific event or experience are they reacting to? What has happened?)
  • Why they are reacting this way (What specific need, belief or difficulty of theirs is making them react this way? In other words, what really matters to them?)

Then pause and keep paying attention, giving them time to let off steam, time to think, and time to say more. When they do say more, repeat the process. Often when you succeed in making someone feel understood they respond with a spontaneous, “Exactly!” That’s when they begin to calm down and become less difficult.

Is listening with empathy all it takes when dealing with difficult people or opinionated people?

No, but it goes a long way, and you will find it very rewarding. The other skill you need is being assertive (not aggressive). These two skills are at the heart of this training course about dealing with difficult people or opinionated people, called "Skills with People". The course enables you to master them both and use them together to handle the situations you find most challenging.

Yet more reasons why you might benefit
from this training in dealing with difficult
or opinionated people

  • You find it very hard to have to cope with and respond to difficult people, whether they're customers, peers, subordinates, bosses, or suppliers.
  • You find difficult customers the hardest to handle, because they become so emotional when things go wrong, as if their life depends on it. It's very hard having a rational conversation with someone in that state of mind.
  • It's doubly difficult dealing with people who are being negative, because it's not just their feelings you have to cope with but also your own.
  • You would like to be able to deal more calmly with disruptive people and angry people, because if you're attack back you only make matters worse.
  • It would be great to be able to turn trouble makers into cooperative allies.
  • When dealing with difficult people you need to be able to stand firm but in a way that avoids confrontation.

Is there more information on this website
relevant to dealing with difficult people?

Yes. You might also find our page influencing & persuasion skills training and emotional intelligence relevant and helpful.

We love helping you communicate successfully

By giving you communication skills that'll transform even your most challenging relationships and interactions.

That's the purpose of Skills with People, our training course for managers and professional people at all levels. Thousands have benefited from this course.

Video Introduction

What People Have Said About The Course

Feedback from a participant's boss - a WS Atkins director

Now he actively listens, probes, asks for clarifications and does not assume anymore he knows the answer.

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Kimberley-Clark marketing director

He is now aware of his need to control his direct approach. He was sometimes too assertive. I think he is now well balanced in this respect.

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Glaxo SmithKline research director

He has made good progress in two areas: 1. team leadership - he listens with empathy to others well and considers their standpoint as well as his own. ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson & Johnson finance director

He has made excellent progress in the management of his team. He has ensured key stakeholders are involved in decision-making and has gone to great le ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - an HSBC investment director

I have had three unprompted comments from different team members and colleagues who have been surprised at the consideration he has shown in helping s ...

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Learning & Development Coordinator - The Entertainer

I can't recommend this course enough. It has genuinely been the most impactful course I have ever completed. Understanding that I can be assertive w ...

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Theatre Manager

Managing to confront them but still maintain their cooperation and support. Previously I was either not confronting or confronting and ending up with ...

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Workshop Manager, Professional Plant Services

I now find it easier to have awkward conversations. (As a result of how he has changed several more people from his company are asking to attend the c ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Billiton director

He's obviously making a positive effort and it does show. People used to be scared of him. No longer.

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Prudential director

He is a lot more confident. At the last meeting of our business unit leaders he fully led the meeting and dealt with people very well.

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson Matthey Catalysts (Germany) senior manager

There has been a noticeable improvement in the performance of this customer service engineer. He is much more succinct now than he was before. He was ...

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Senior Engineer, Qualcomm

An unbelievable experience, highly motivating training and one of the few which stays forever in your mind. A tangible impact to your life and workin ...

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Senior Resource Consultant, Shell International

“Skills with People” has helped me deal with conflict situations.  It has helped me to diffuse tension in meetings and convert pushback into alignment ...

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Shell International senior manager

He is showing far more self-awareness and more restraint in potentially confrontational situations. He is far more aware of the impact his actions and ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - Chairman of White Clarke Group

He has greatly improved his ability to manage a situation. He listens more and uses that information to convince. A good example is the .... group, wh ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - head of projects in Heinz

He now gains support through his willingness to involve people more and take them with him.

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The wife of a participant

"Just thinking about last night’s conversation and it’s bringing tears to my eyes – it’s what I’ve always wanted: to be able to talk with you like tha ...

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Merck Sharp & Dohme medical director

She feels more confident in tackling people and has been impressed with her new found techniques, e.g., in dealing with members of the marketing depar ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - A Philips Semiconductors director

To what extend do I think his training need has been satisfied? Completely. I have been approached by 4 peers to tell me that they could see a very po ...

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Fundraising Officer, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

A very intimate training which will make anyone reflect on how best to engage with colleagues when confronted with difficult situations.

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Project Quality Engineer (self funding)

A lesson for life! The power of effective communication is incredible when one masters the skills "listen with empathy" / "speak assertively". Defin ...

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National Training Index* report on the course

"From delegates reports we have identified Skills with People is a 'highspot' among UK business courses. Delegates mentioned as most helpful the enha ...

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EHS advisor (environmental health and safety), Johnson Matthey

This is the best non-techincal course the company has ever put me on because it's the most useful. 

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson & Johnson marketing director

She has become increasingly aware and focussed on ensuring she is gaining cooperation from colleagues by the way she approaches situations. E.g., Meet ...

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Leisure Centre Manager

The most useful part of the course was learning how to convey my disappointment with a member of staff without demotivating them, without making them ...

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Sports Centre Manager

I feel that my relationship with other attendees has improved massively following the session. I'd say 9/10 for what I've got from the course as I sa ...

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Golf Club Manager

Ten out of ten for the course for me personally. I think I would have resigned if it hadn't been for the course.

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Thank you from a participant

I wanted to let you know that I have secured a new role.  I had to go through an assessment centre and one challenge was to negotiate with a 'belliger ...

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Examples of Training Needs Met

Enormous enthusiasm but little sensitivity Read More...
Very diligent but hated dealing with difficult people Read More...
Had a positive attitude but gave a negative impression Read More...
Respected specialist who was too quiet at meetings Read More...
Lots of energy and ideas but little attention for his clients Read More...
Being more assertive would help career go better Read More...
Very logical but not creating enough rapport Read More...
Allowed his meetings to get out of hand Read More...
Technically very sound but lacking persuasive skills Read More...
Preparing for a more challenging role Read More...
Not delegating or developing others Read More...
Difficulty communicating with non-technical people Read More...
Flying high but creating a tense atmosphere Read More...
Well intentioned but demoralising his team Read More...
Forceful communicator who created friction Read More...

Need To Know The Quick Facts?