Problem People: Part 1

There will always be “problem people” in your life. The way in which you address them and the issues surrounding the relationships is the key to success. If you are hesitant to take a direct approach to resolving issues, habits or behaviors that create the “problem,” then you will not be able to maximize the relationship for the better.

Frustration-woman w red backgroundIn “Problem People and How to Manage Them,” Dr. Peter Honey states that short of getting rid of people, there are really only four options open to you:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Alter your perception of the problem
  3. Persuade the problem person to change
  4. Modify the situation

Do Nothing:

Sometimes the problem will work itself out. However, not doing something about a performance problem is like putting your head in the sand: you can’t see what everyone else can. Ignoring it and hoping it will go away does several things:

  • ¬†Allows it to get bigger and more entrenched
  • Allows you to avoid the uncertainty of taking action; rationalization is an important psychological protector
  • Allows you to procrastinate, while allowing the problem to get worse and grow from something relatively minor to a substantial problem
  • Creates the vicious circle of unresolved performance problems

When deciding not to address the issue, make sure you understand your motive. You may think it will “work itself out” or just go away. However, many times suppressing the problem will only allow it to brew inside one or both parties and it may cause personal health problems. Ask yourself:

  • ¬†Am I just avoiding a confrontation because I am uncomfortable?
  • What are the real issues behind the problem?
  • What do I really fear?

You have several other options rather than avoiding the situation since you know it probably will not go away!

Alter Your Perception of the Problem:

Look at the situation from the other person’s point of view. It may be more or less important to you. It could be that the real problem is your perception of the situation. Depending on the situation, the very same behavior can be considered an asset in one case and a liability in another.

Since a performance problem is the difference between the behavior you want (the should) and the behavior you have (the actual), the real problem is how to close the gap and remove the difference. There are two options:

  1. You can move the behavior from what it is now to what you want
  2. You can move what you want to the behavior you have taking place

What one wants is based on values and beliefs about what should happen.

Example: “I believe my boss should always support me in front of others.”

When this doesn’t happen, the individual gets upset and sees the other’s behavior as a problem. You see this as a mismatch between the actual behavior and what you think it should be (the expected behavior). Closing the gap is where problem solving begins. Blame is not to be an issue at this point.

(Note: to read Part 2, simply join the In-Circle Membership by registering in the column to the right. There is no fee for a basic membership.)