How to Manage Difficult People

Emma De Vita checks out Alan Fairweather's advice on handling problem staff

Author Alan Fairweather worked as a manager in sales and customer service for 15 years, so he should know a thing or two about dealing with difficult people - the bane of every manager's life.

How easy things would be if you didn't have to deal with temper tantrums, bullies or incompetent colleagues.

Fairweather's book How to Manage Difficult People offers the reader strategies for dealing with challenging behaviour at work. Core to his approach is what he terms the "five factors of success". These are: mind control; belief; energy; rapport; and courage. Cultivate these qualities and your ability to deal with difficult people will improve immeasurably.

Take mind control. What does it mean exactly? Well, it boils down to more positive and less negative thinking. Do you ever catch yourself saying any of these things: "It's going to be one of those days"; "I'm fed up"; or "this person is going to give me a real problem"? If so, ditch the negative attitude right now because it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, think positive thoughts only. The next time you find yourself on the receiving end of a moaning Minnie, take a deep breath, force a smile and think kind things. Who knows? It might rub off on them.

- Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today.

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