Master Aleksandr Vasilevych Lev of Volynia Master Aleksandr Vasilevych Lev of Volynia

Dealing with Difficult People

1.       Qualifications

a.       John Lyon, MSW, LICSW

b.      Trained Social Worker and Therapist.

c.       Employed at the Village Family Service Center for 6 years as atherapist.

d.      I teach classes on Anger management, Parenting, work with children who have beenabused and neglected, Couples, individuals with anxiety and depression, men whohave sexually offended against children and trauma work.

e.      Court Baron of Northshield, Kingdom Seneschal twice Seneschal of Korsvag, Western Regional Seneschal,Executive Officer Northshield Army, Autocrat of many events

2.       Truisms

a.       Defensive people are lousy listeners

b.      Perception trumps reality

c.       Fear is a greater motivator than want

d.      People like to feel included

e.      People are doing the best they can

f.       Words to avoid: You, Should, ought, absolutes,why

3.       Why are people difficult?

a.       There is something they are afraid of

b.      They don't understand something about what is going on.

c.       They have goals that are counter to yours

d.      They have a different history/experience with the situation and see things going ina different direction

e.      There is something in you that is creating the difficulty.

                                                              i.     As Dan Savage says, If every relationship you have ends because the other person was a jerk. Stop and think, what is the common factor? YOU!

4.       Characteristics of Difficult problems

a.       Intrasparency(lack of clarity of the situation)

                                                              i.     Commencement opacity (How to start)

                                                            ii.     Continuation opacity (How to continue)

b.      Polyely(multiple goals)

                                                              i.     Inexpressiveness (Not talking)

                                                            ii.     Opposition (Others want different things than you)

                                                           iii.     Transience (Problem is short lived or the opportunity to act is brief)

                                                          iv.     Complexity (large numbers of items, interrelations, and decisions)

c.       Complexity(large numbers of items, interrelations, and decisions)

                                                              i.     Enumerability (counting or listing)

                                                            ii.     Connectivity (hierarchy relation, communication relation, allocation relation)

                                                           iii.     Heterogeneity (differences within demands)

d.      Dynamics(time considerations)

                                                              i.     Temporal Constraints (Time limitations)

                                                            ii.     Temporal Sensitivity (Must act quickly)

                                                           iii.     Phase Effects

                                                          iv.     Dynamic unpredictability (difficulty in predicting the future)


5.       Putting it into perspective

a.       Step1: Identify the actual event (source of stress) 

b.      Step2: List worst-case scenarios

c.       Step3: List best case scenarios

d.      Step4: List most likely scenarios

e.      Step5: Determine a plan for dealing with most likely scenarios

6.       Dealingwith Criticism.

a.       First, stop the attack. You don’t deserve to be battered by hostile and abusive attacks from others. If the other person won’t stop in spite of your request call for a time-out or walk away.

b.      Remind yourself that it is only one person’s opinion about a specific aspect of your behavior. A criticism (no matter how correct) doesn’t, and shouldn’t, damage your self-worth.

c.       Get more information. As unpleasant as it can be, getting good feedback can help you improve how you do things, both with this person and with others.

d.      Clouding is agreeing either partially, in principle, or in probability.

                                                              i.     Useful across many situations but of limited power

                                                            ii.     “The Shire has been spending more money lately”

                                                           iii.     “I don’t think it is right to waste the Shire’smoney”

                                                          iv.     “It probably does seem like the Shire is losing money right now.”

e.      Assertive preference shuts down a critic completely. You acknowledge the criticism but make it clear that you disagree with it.

                                                              i.     More powerful, but less generally useful. Only useful in situations where the other person doesn’t get a vote on what you aredoing.

                                                            ii.     “Your Grace I appreciate your comments, but thisis how I choose to handle this situation.

                                                           iii.     “I’ll take that under advisement your Grace.”

f.       Finally, there is the Content-to-process shift. Here you prevent things from getting worse when there are feelings behind thescenes fueling the fire. Change what you are talking about from the issue(content) to what’s going on inside you or the quality of the interaction(process).

                                                              i.     Most powerful, but of limited utility. Only useful when you know that something is going on behind the scenes.

                                                            ii.     “Last week all of my shots were fine, but this week all of my shots are excessive or light, is my calibration off or issomething else going on?”

7.       ActiveListening               

a.       Acknowledge the thoughts, ideas or feelings first

                                                              i.     Show your readiness to listen by recognizing and hearing the thoughts, ideas, and feeling of the other person. Nods, “uh-huhs” and comments that indicate you recognize the validity of the speaker’s feelings

                                                            ii.     “Sounds like you’re really upset by this”


b.      Say it in different words

                                                              i.     A powerful and important component of active listening is a reflection, otherwise known as paraphrasing. This lets the otherperson know you are trying to understand. It clarifies the communication andslows the pace of the conversation. Repeat what the other speaker is saying inyour own words, without adding anything no there in the first place.

                                                            ii.     “If I’m following you, you are really wondering how this recent decision will affect your shire.”

c.       Ask open-ended questions

                                                              i.     Ask for help when you get lost in a conversation. Test your interpretation of what the speaker is saying. Ask relevant, open-ended questions beginning with “what”, “how”, “please explain”, or “describe.”

                                                            ii.     “How will that influence new members in yourshire?”

d.      Summarize and clarify

                                                              i.     Pull together what you have heard. Make sure you understand the speaker’s intent. This keeps you from falling into “selective perception” When you perceive selectively, you are already expecting the speaker to react in a certain way, perhaps based on past experience, or on the way, you would react. You then respond to the reaction you’ve predetermined instead of the real one. Not helpful.

                                                            ii.     “You mentioned talking with them or just letting it go. What might be some other options?”

e.      Give an opinion

                                                              i.     Do this with caution, ask if they are willing or want to hear your opinion.

                                                            ii.     “Would you be interested in hearing my thoughtsabout this?”

8.       Tipsfor active listening

a.       Make eye contact

                                                              i.     Eye contact increases the chances of “getting” the message and demonstrated interest and attention.

b.      Adjust your body posture

                                                              i.     Facing the speaker and slightly leaning in, suggests that you are paying attention and helps you stay tuned in.

c.       Give verbal or nonverbal acknowledgment

                                                              i.     Acknowledging the speaker helps to involve you in the communication process and shows you are paying attention

d.      Clear your mind

                                                              i.     Clear your mind of your own thoughts to avoid wandering mentally

9.       Roadblocks to effective listening

a.       Emotional Interference (your baggage)

b.      Defensiveness(feeling that you are being attacked)

c.       Hearing only facts and not feelings

d.      Not seeking clarification (assuming you know what they mean or intend)

e.      Hearing what is expected instead of what is said

f.       Stereotyping

g.       The Halo Effect (the tendency for something to be influenced by a loosely associated factor

h.      Automatic Dismissal (i.e. “we’ve never done it that way”)

i.        Resistance to change

10.   Reducing conflict

a.       TheDefusing Technique:

                                                              i.     The other person might be angry and may come to the situation armed with a number of arguments describing how you are to blame for his or her unhappiness. Your goal is to address the other’s anger – andyou do this by simply agreeing with the person. When you find some truth in the other point of view, it is difficult for the other person to maintain anger. For example, “I know that I said I would call you last night. You are absolutely right. I wish I could be more responsible sometimes.” The accusation might be completely unreasonable from your viewpoint, but there is always some truth in what the other person says. At the very least, we need to acknowledge that individuals have different ways of seeing things. This does not mean that we have to compromise our own basic principles. We simply validate the other’s stance so that we can move on to a healthier resolution ofthe conflict. This may be hard to do in a volatile situation, but a sign of individual strength and integrity is the ability to postpone our immediate reactions in order to achieve positive goals. Sometimes we have to “lose” in order, ultimately, to “win.”

b.      Empathy:

                                                              i.     Try to put yourself into the shoes of the otherperson. See the world through their eyes. Empathy is an important listening technique which gives the other feedback that he or she is being heard. Thereare two forms of empathy. Thought Empathy gives the message that you understand what the other is trying to say. You can do this in conversation by paraphrasing the words of the other person. For example, “I understand you to say that your trust in me has been broken.” Feeling Empathy is your acknowledgment of how the other person probably feels. It is important never to attribute emotions which may not exist for the other person (such as, “You’re confused with all your emotional upheaval right now”), but rather to indicate your perception of how the person must be feeling. For example, “I guess you probably feel pretty mad at me right now.”

c.       Exploration:

                                                              i.     Ask gentle, probing questions about what theother person is thinking and feeling. Encourage the other to talk fully about what is on his or her mind. For example, “Are there any other thoughts that youneed to share with me?”

d.      Using“I” Statements:

                                                              i.     Take responsibility for your own thoughts rather than attributing motives to the other person. This decreases the chance that the other person will become defensive. For example, “I feel pretty upset thatthis thing has come between us.” This statement is much more effective thansaying, “You have made me feel very upset.”

e.      Stroking:

                                                              i.     Find positive things to say about the other person, even if the other is angry with you. Show a respectful attitude. For example, “I genuinely respect you for having the courage to bring this problemto me. I admire your strength and your caring attitude.”


11.   Negotiating in a principled manner

a.       Always separate the people from the problem.

                                                              i.     A good negotiation should involve a desire for maintaining the relationship. This is especially true for co-workers. But the relationship should not influence the substance of the conflict. If it is strictly a relationship problem, deal with it as such.

b.      Focuson the interests, not positions.

                                                              i.     Do not get caught up in the position the person has taken. What is behind their position? Why are they offering what they are? Are there other ways to get their needs met (and yours)? Acknowledge their interestsand keep up a discussion about both parties interests - this is the way togenerate alternative solutions.

c.       Generatea variety of possibilities before deciding what to do.

                                                              i.     Realize that solving their problem is also a wayof solving yours. Look for ways that you will both benefit (win-win). Don'tassume that there is only one single answer (theirs, or yours!)

d.      Insistthat results be based on some objective standard.

                                                              i.     Ideally, to assure a wise agreement, objective criteria should be not only independent of the will, but also legitimate and practical. There are many objective standards that can be applied when trying to negotiate fairly. The following are only a few:
Market Value, What a court would decide? Precedent, Moral Standards,  Scientific Judgment, Equal Treatment Professional Standards, Tradition, Efficiency, Reciprocity

12.   Howto deal with Arguing

a.       Quiet, slow, calm voice

                                                              i.     helps keep the total energy level down andallows for non-defensive conversation

b.      BrokenRecord approach

                                                              i.     repeat over and over “I am not going to argue with you.”

                                                            ii.     Be prepared to keep at it for a while

c.       Empathetic Response

                                                              i.     Call out to the emotion you are hearing and not what they are arguing about

                                                            ii.     I.E.” It sounds like you are really scared” or“You sound really angry about what I am saying”

13.   SettingLimits

a.       Acknowledge the other person’s needs

b.      State your own position

c.       Say No

d.      “Iknow that you had asked me to cook lunch for the event (Acknowledging), but I’m already committed to Marshalling and running tourneys (Your position) so I am going to have to ask you to find someone else to cook lunch.” (Saying no)


14.   AssertiveStatements   

a.       Facts: make a factual statement about the current situation, something that isobjectively true

b.      Feelings: talk about how YOU are feeling without blaming others or stating how they feel

c.       Fair request: basically just saying what you want, but make sure that it issomething that is specific, doable, and seeks a behavioral change 

15.   Tipsfor letting go of Irreconcilable differences

a.       First ask your self if the other person’s position, while contrary to you, impacts your life.

                                                              i.     If it doesn’t, then it is probably best to tell yourself “They can think whoever they want, and I don’t have to agree with them and they don’t have to agree with me.”

                                                            ii.     If it does, ask yourself how you can minimize the impact. It might be to avoid them at events, it might be to work with them to find some compromise that allows both of you to get some of what you want.

                                                           iii.     If nothing else find a neutral party and see if they can help you reach a middle ground.

16.   SCA specifics

a.       How do you deal with people who have power (or think that they do)?

                                                              i.     Stroking (10E)

                                                            ii.     Negotiation (11)

                                                           iii.     Active listening (7, 8)

b.      How do you deal with people who think they know better than you?

                                                              i.     Clouding, Assertive preference (6)

                                                            ii.     Setting limits (13) might also be useful inthese situations

c.       How do you deal with people who want to tell you how to play or what to do?

                                                              i.     Clouding, Assertive Preference (6)

d.      How do you deal with rude or disrespectful people?

                                                              i.     Tell them. (10d) is good for this. Using an I statement to express that the person has done or said something which you take as an offense. I statements help keep defensiveness down and allow them to beable to hear you and respond.

e.      How do I tell a [Duke/Laurel/Pelican] that I think they are wrong?

                                                              i.     Tell them. Most of the time they are going to beopen to feedback. They might not agree with you and might know something youdon’t. They might have once thought the same thing and have come to learn thatthey were wrong.

                                                            ii.     An Assertive Statement (14) can be very good for starting a conversation about how you would like someone to do thingsdifferently.

17.   Questions?


Posted by: Kita Jiru Toramassa Kingdom Seneschal on 2/12/2019

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