Working with difficult people is not only frustrating and stressful, it can also cost your organization time and money. This session covers some ways to recognize difficult behavior and tactics to respond to it, both professionally and personally. The key is to learn to separate people from problems—act rather than react and encourage respectful behavior.

Key takeaways:

  • Understand what can trigger difficult behavior.
  • Identify basic types of difficult behavior.
  • Manage anger and defensiveness in yourself and others.
  • Learn specific strategies for interacting productively in difficult situations.

Webinar presenter Marilyn Corrigan, MA, is a leadership and communications consultant and coach. Her goal is to help her clients improve performance in the areas of leadership, communications, teams and managing change. She has over 20 years of experience in management roles within organizations.

Presented on February 21, 2024.

Note: University of Minnesota employees can receive 200 wellness points by viewing a CCAPS professional development webinar. Please complete this form to record your wellness points.

Webinar Takeaways

When working with challenging people, employ your emotional intelligence:

  • disengage
  • empathize
  • inquire
  • disclose
  • depersonalize

Steps you can take when addressing difficult behavior:

BehaviorCharacteristicsSteps for handling
  • abrupt
  • attacking
  • controlling
  • be assertive
  • hold your ground
  • interrupt to get their attention
  • repeat key points, be concise
Indirect Aggression
  • sarcastic
  • taking cheap shots
  • making you feel trapped or cornered
  • surface the attack
  • stop and restate
  • ask probing questions
  • be assertive
Chronic Complainer
  • whining
  • finding fault with everything 
  • self-righteous blaming
  • not interested in problem solving
  • engage in problem solving
  • listen to their issue 
  • address facts not emotion 
  • recognize their contribution