!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: When is a difficult person not a difficult person?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

When is a difficult person not a difficult person?

You can find a range of useful negotiation teaching materials at the site for the MIT Sloan School of Management course in Negotiation and Conflict Management, as taught in Spring 2001 by Mary Rowe, MIT's Ombudsperson and an adjunct professor at the Sloan School.

A taste of these materials is Prof. Rowe's list of circumstances in which a difficult person — someone who is hard to negotiate with — may be less daunting than his/her normal self. These circumstances include:
  • When I perceive the “difficult person” to be “like me.”

  • When someone else deals with the difficult person who does not find the person difficult.

  • When the person gets his or her way.

  • When the person is not feeling threatened.

  • When the person agrees with me, or listens to me.

  • When it is useful for me for the person to be difficult (with someone else).

  • The person may not seem to be difficult to himself or herself.

  • When other people are around, and constrain the difficult person.

  • When we are alone together and the person relaxes.

  • When the issues are depersonalized.

  • When we both can laugh.

  • When the person recognizes superior power, and calms down.

  • When the person is effectively sanctioned.

  • When we all are focused on a common goal, and immersed in the work.

  • When the person is well-prepared.

  • When I am not in the person’s way.

  • When the person is appreciated/recognized.

  • When the person recovers from illness, or from being afraid or anxious.

  • When I see it’s just the person’s outward style, and learn to like and trust the person.

  • When the stress is off both of us, and “the time is right.”
Note that Prof. Rowe is not trying to arouse false hope of being able to change a person's personality. Rather, she is offering ideas for circumstances to seek, or seek to create, that could make dealing with the person more manageable.


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