Mom’s Advice for Dealing With Difficult People

I completely enjoyed facilitating a leadership development workshop today. The class was packed with people who are transitioning into leadership roles–moving from individual contributors to managers.

Project managers study their bossesAt one point the discussion moved towards dealing with difficult people. In particular, a participant talked about struggling with a challenging boss. Cynthia, a new leader in the organization’s HR department, shared a lesson she learned from her mother.

“Instead of trying to control him, you need to start studying him.”

Trying to control difficult people might just be fruitless. But studying them…. learning what makes them tick…. what their preferences are…. what they like and dislike…. how others around you are able to influence them…. That is great advice, mom!

In a recent project management podcast interview with author Dave Po-Chedley, he uses the phrase, “learn your sponsor’s buying habits.” Learn how they make decisions. Study them.

Whether it’s a challenging boss, co-worker, customer, or teenager :), follow mom’s advice: Stop trying to control them! Start studying them!

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