201 Ways to Deal with Difficult People

You only get one chance to make a first impression, but every day we are offered multiple opportunities to course correct and make a lasting impression in the work place. 201 WAYS TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE – A Quick Tip Survival Guide by Alan Axelrod and Jim Holtje shares how you can identify, minimize or reduce the office friction.

Are there some people whom you feel go out of their way to make your life difficult or unbearable, they just seem to rub you the wrong way? These behaviors are often caused many work place office dynamics, such as personal stressors, personalities, insecurities, the need to control and/or fear. Their behavior is how they choose to deal or control the situation. They are able to get away with it because the source has not been identified, addressed or corrected.

Who are these “difficult” people? Since we are all living this thing called life, we may at some point be the difficult person or be affected/victimized by the “difficult” person. They can show up as the office bully, the hard-headed supervisor/colleague, the boss from hell, the perfectionist, the screamer, or even your client. “Clients can be a lot like bosses…Don’t start out the relationship so busy to sell yourself that you fail to listen.”

However, there are two types of “difficult people” that should not be ignored. If ignored they can undermine the progress of the office. Their behavior, left unchecked can sabotage the integrity and/or credibility of the office and cause tension among the team. These are the manipulators and the passive-aggressors.  The manipulators “seek not only to manipulate people, but truth itself” and the passive aggressive people “seem meek, complacent and easy-going, but have a knack for sabotageYou ask for some critical task to be performed, and somehow, it remains undone.”


  • Most difficult people won’t change on their own…[Their] behavior is predictable…[So] Formulate a strategy…Decide in advance what results you would like to achieve rather than concentrate on negative issues or your bad feelings about the difficult person.”
  • Today’s rival may be tomorrow’s boss – or a key subordinate on whom your continued authority and advancement depend.”

Nobody’s perfect! If you see or know someone who may be a “difficult” person – don’t despair. The book provides practical “no-nonsense strategies for turning close encounters of the worst kind into civil, sane, and productive exchanges” that can help you navigate through the quagmire of office politics.

If avoiding the person, quitting or even apologizing isn’t an option take a deep breath and remember why you and that person are there – simply put, to do a job by utilizing your skills and abilities to obtain or exceed a desired outcome. At any job no matter how long or short you may “occupy the seat” one day it will end. In the scheme of things it is only momentary until the next crisis arises.

Each day gives you an opportunity to start anew – try to remember that everybody is going through something- some more than others. Document where you can,”While documentation is valuable, don’t let written memos become substitutes for face-to-face conversations. Deal directly with everyone, difficult people included.” Cover your tracks and keep the lines of communication open and respectful.

Let’s BOND over BOOKS  rates 201 WAYS TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE by Alan Axelrod and Jim Holtje as EASY and ENGAGING (150 pgs or less)…straight-forward, light and to the point.



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