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:

Sidetracked: Understanding the Psychological Barriers that Derail Negotiations

Posted by & filed under 1 Day Courses, executive training.

We all experience emotionally challenging conflicts and negotiations. Whether you are negotiating with your board or with your family, over internal resources or with external partners, as the buyer or as the seller, emotions can turn an otherwise productive negotiation into an unprofitable disaster.It does not have to be that way. In this interactive workshop, … Read More 

Dealing with Difficult People

Posted by & filed under Free Report.

At the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School (PON), we are dedicated to helping professionals deal with hard bargainers and resolve even the most challenging disputes. To help you understand the principles of negotiation and conflict resolution, we put together a special report: Dealing With Difficult People. Discover how to collaborate, negotiate, and bargain … Read More 

How to Deal with Difficult People

Posted by & filed under Dealing 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 More 

Dealing with Difficult People – In and Outside of Congress

Posted by & filed under Dealing with Difficult People.

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