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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dealing With Difficult People

I was privileged to attend a Women in Management meeting today and listen to a speaker present "Dealing With Difficult People". I learned a lot. First and foremost, I am going to admit...I am a difficult person. I am not intentionally difficult, I am simply difficult by design. Born to a 50 year old man and his 32 year old wife, I was the long awaited only child of people nearly old enough to be my grandparents. I tease that I was spoiled, but in reality I was just appreciated, adored, and spent the majority of my youth with adults. This combination resulted in a mature teenager who was completely idealistic. I fully believed my father when he told me I could do anything I put my mind to as long as I was willing to work hard. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth; I was born with a work ethic quite unique to my generation.

My drive, ambition, and self confidence has been misinterpreted from time to time and during my quest to find my authentic self, I admit...I can see how that would happen. Honestly, my motivation has always been genuine. I am a people pleaser and I give 110% and hope to avoid conflict at all costs. Really and truly. Here's where the disconnect comes in though. I expect that others have the same goals I do. I really bought into the 'we were all created equal' idea. Not sure where that came from, but I really thought that people said what they meant, meant what they said, worked harder than they got paid for, and all wanted what was best for the world at large. Oops!

When I walk into a store, I expect to be greeted warmly with a smile and a chipper hello. When that does not happen, I am disappointed and the experience is already tainted. This isn't about the store at all, this is my own problem. I assume that the world operates by the same set of standards I have set for myself. Today's presentation gave many great suggestions on how to deal with difficult people, how to listen carefully, rephrase for understanding, come together with a solution, provide feedback etc...

As I difficult person, my take-away from the presentation was this: Go into each situation with an open mind. Don't assume you know anything about what you are getting yourself into (ie: you know nothing about the person you just met, nothing about the culture of the business you are entering, etc...). If something strikes you as being "off", search for the root cause, or let it go (ie: instead of wondering why the customer service was so poor, notice the red nose of the clerk and speculate that maybe she isn't feeling good). Last but not least, don't take it personally. This lesson is hard for me as an only child - but the world does NOT revolve around me. That clerk wasn't rude to me...she is probably rude to everyone. Learn to let go of the small things. I may not leave the grocery store with a warm fuzzy feeling about the cashier, but wasn't the goal of grocery shopping to buy groceries anyway? Focus on the outcome and the positive take-aways from the experience and do not assume that everyone operates by the same set of standards.

Once again - Turning Lemons into Lemonade...yours truly (a somewhat less demanding/difficult) Crystal Casavant - signing off

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