In your negotiations, have you ever faced a truly difficult negotiator—someone whose behavior seems designed to provoke, thwart, and annoy you beyond all measure? We often have strong incentives to negotiate with those we find obstinate, unpredictable, abrasive, or untrustworthy. When we avoid dealing with difficult people, we risk missing out on important opportunities. But … Read More
Discover how to collaborate, negotiate, and bargain with even the most combative opponents with, Dealing with Difficult People, a FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
how to deal with difficult people
How to Deal with Difficult People
Learning how to deal with difficult people can be one of the most important negotiation skills – and life skills – we can attain.
In business negotiations, we sometimes face the task of figuring out how to deal with difficult people—those who seem to pick fights or rely on hard-bargaining tactics. Some of us naturally turn away from such difficult negotiations. Others choose to try to overlook or overcome the flaws they see in potential negotiating partners.
In his book Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight, Program on Negotiation Chair Robert Mnookin analyzes this common dilemma. He notes that honor, integrity, and identity can and should be significant factors when we are deciding how to deal with difficult people. But because such emotional, moral judgments tend to arise from the intuitive side of the brain, they deserve greater scrutiny.
Yet sometimes, we have little say in who we have to interact with. The challenge when determining how to deal with difficult people and working with difficult people is to find ways to avoid being caught up in their competitive trap.
In his classic negotiation text Getting Past No: Negotiating In Difficult Situations, William Ury advises us to break the cycle of reaction and counter-reaction in negotiation by “going to the balcony”—that is, by imagining we are stepping back from the stage to the balcony. In doing so, we can step back, gather our wits, and look at the situation objectively. This sense of psychological distance can give us the clarity we need to identify the motives behind unfair tactics and avoid responding in kind.
To learn more about how to deal with difficult people and maintain your integrity, download your FREE copy of our report, Dealing with Difficult People, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
The following items are tagged how to deal with difficult people:
Negotiating the Impossible
Bonus day for May Negotiation and Leadership program. In this one-day program, based on his acclaimed book, Negotiating the Impossible: How to Break Deadlocks and Resolve Ugly Conflicts (Without Money or Muscle), Malhotra identifies principles for breaking impasses and resolving conflicts when things seem impossible, and provides scores of actionable lessons from behind-the-scenes stories of fascinating … Read Negotiating the Impossible
Dealing with Difficult People
Top help you handle difficult people, our free, special report Dealing with Difficult People is packed full of concrete tips and strategies. Discover how to collaborate, negotiate, and bargain with even the most combative opponents. … Read Dealing with Difficult People
Negotiation in Business: Apple and Samsung’s Dispute Resolution Case Study
For two days in late May 2012, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi met with a judge in the U.S. District Court of Northern California in an attempt to reach a settlement in a high-profile U.S. patent case, a sobering example of negotiation in business. … Read More
Negotiation Strategies: Bernie Sanders’ Pragmatic Approach to Negotiating in the Senate
When dealing with difficult people, we tend to expect them to be rigid negotiators who will walk away if they don’t get everything they want. But a gruff demeanor may not necessarily translate into a hard-nosed negotiating style. … Read More
How to Deal with Difficult People
We’ve all met them: people who prefer competition over collaboration, stonewalling over problem solving, tough talk over active listening. Think of the boss who refuses to allow you time off to help an ailing relative, or the potential customer armed with a “nonnegotiable” proposal. When considering how to deal with difficult people, we tend to write … Read How to Deal with Difficult People
Dealing with Difficult People – In and Outside of Congress
In business negotiations, we sometimes face the task of dealing with difficult people—those who seem to pick fights, hold offensive views, or rely on hard-bargaining tactics. Some of us naturally turn away from such difficult negotiations. Others choose to try to overlook or overcome the flaws they see in potential negotiating partners. … Read More