Today our local public television station (KUHT, the first public TV station in the country) posted on Facebook a short video about dealing with a “bad boss.” It called to mind a book I have used with and recommend to a number of individual clients, Working with Difficult People by Amy Cooper Hakim and Muriel Solomon.
This is not the kind of book you need to read from cover to cover. Rather, it’s more of a reference book where you can look up a few pages about the particular sort of difficult person you work with.
For example, Part One is devoted to hostile or angry people. This is subdivided into sections for hostile angry bosses, hostile angry colleagues and hostile angry subordinates. Each of these, in turn, is subdivided into several types of hostile angry people. The types of hostile angry colleagues, for example, are: raging bulls, tacklers, cyberbullies, enviers, and intimidators.
Read the descriptions of each of these types of hostile angry colleagues to see which one most describes the one you work with. If you aren’t sure, read further about each of those types. Each description is only a few pages, and it may be that the person troubling you has elements of more than one of the categories raging bull, tackler, etc.
Now let’s say the description that best fits your difficult colleague is “raging bull.” You then read a description of your thoughts, which helps confirm that you chose the right category, raging bull, and reassures you, that your thoughts are normal.
Next, you’ll find a brief paragraph about what the raging bull is thinking. I love this because it interfaces so well with what I teach people about trying to figure out the concerns and interests of a person with whom they want to build consensus.
Sometimes, it’s pretty easy to figure out monetary interests and the like. However, intangible interests, such as thoughts and emotions, are more difficult to uncover. The paragraph about what the raging bull colleague is thinking is a window into that person’s intangible interests.
After that, comes a step-by-step strategy for dealing with the raging bull, and finally, a short script of “tactical talk.” This is another thing I can identify with because the sample dialogues in my first book, Bridges to Consensus are the most popular and often complimented features of that book. (By the way, I’m also including sample dialogues in my soon-to-be-published third book, Women Can Renew the World IF, and so Can You.”)
So there, in only about two or three pages of text, you have some sound, practical suggestions for dealing with your difficult colleague, boss or underling. I often used this book for my own purposes before I started my persuasion coach business, back when I was working in the same office with others.
Later, I used it with individual clients, working with it together in session. After the session, I would recommend the book to the client, and they always noted the title and expressed enthusiasm about getting their own copy.
If Working with Difficult People doesn’t completely solve your problem, or if you’d like to take it to the next level, the book makes a good starting point for in-person consulting or coaching from me. It may be that the book’s description of what your raging bull colleague is thinking doesn’t quite fit or seems incomplete. Having read about raging bulls first will save us session time, and thus, save you money.
Maybe you’d like to practice before actually speaking with your raging bull. We can practice together in a coaching session. You might be surprised to find that it helps for you not only to take the role of yourself and let me be the raging bull, but also, for us to reverse those roles.
Or perhaps you would like help adapting something you learned about the raging bull at work to the raging bull neighbor, committee member, or uncle. I’ve got you covered.
Meanwhile, if you try Working with Difficult People, please let me know how you like it.