Deal With Difficult People Using A 4-Step Communication Strategy

How To Effectively Handle Difficult People Calmly and Professionally

If you’re looking to improve both your professional and personal relationships, then it is highly recommended that you create a list of your boundaries and enforce them. Boundaries are used to define how other people should treat you and specifically, what behavior will not be tolerated.

When you create new boundaries, you also need to re-train the people around you. People treat you in a certain way because they have done so without any sign of you being offended or unsettled by their behavior. If you wish to introduce new boundaries, you’ll need to re-train those around you so they can learn what types of behavior are now accepted or not accepted by you. If you never protest undesired behavior such as rude comments, others will learn that you tolerate it and will subsequently walk over you.

Using a 4-step communication guide, you can begin changing how people treat you almost immediately with success. This tool can apply to anyone, even children or employers, but under the condition that you maintain a mellow and neutral voice during all of the steps. You cannot use tones reflecting anger, superiority, or sarcasm. It may be beneficial to take a moment to calm down before attempting to use this model by practicing in a mirror or taking some long deep breaths. The goal is to talk calmly without tension or difficulty so make sure you’re able to reach this tone prior to using these 4 steps.

The 4- Step Communication Method:

  1. Educate: “Did you know that you twenty minutes late?” “You scold me every day.” “You didn’t eat any vegetables at dinner for the past week.” If a talk explaining that they are engaging in undesired behavior doesn’t appear to result in a change, move on to step 2.
  2. Request: Talk to them and ask them to stop their behavior. “When we are supposed to meet, I ask that you appear on time.” “I’m going to ask you to stop scolding me from now on.” “Could you please eat at least one vegetable during dinner?” Move on to step 3 if they are still continuing to engage in the undesired behavior.
  3. Demand: Make a stern demand that contains consequences if they do not comply. “If you do not show up within twenty minutes then I’m leaving.” “You need to stop scolding me from now on.” “If you don’t eat your vegetables you’re not going to eat a dessert.” If they still continue, move onto step 4.
  4. Leave: Stay collected and without producing a snide or angry remark simply leave the area. “I am hanging up the phone; we can talk about this later when we are not upset.” “I’m not going to continue this discussion if you’re just going to yell at me. I’m going back to work, and we can talk later once you’ve calmed down.” “I’m heading upstairs; we can address this later once you’ve cooled down.” Your options at this point are to leave the situation for a brief moment which may include stopping a conversation, hanging up the phone or exiting the room. If you fear that your boundaries will never be acknowledged and upheld by others, then you may need to quit the job or relationship indefinitely.

Again, for this tool to be effective, you need to deliver each step in a calm and neutral voice. While it may be upsetting and frustrating, it’s important that you do not get angry or raise your voice if the individual(s) do not comply. The effectiveness lies in the delivery of a respectful and neutral tone of voice. We expect that after using this 4-step tool, you will earn more respect in both personal and professional relationships. If you do not clearly state your boundaries, they will never be respected. If you are not receiving respect, you may not get the opportunity to receive raises or promotions that you potentially earned. It’s interesting because most people think that setting clear boundaries will hinder or annoy others around them but it’s actually the opposite. Creating strong boundaries and enforcing them with a calm and collected grace beckons respect from your co-workers, peers, or employers. If you choose never to set boundaries or if they are not strong or clearly stated, others will certainly take advantage of that and walk all over you because they know you will tolerate it. If you think being a doormat isn’t all so bad, just remember that even nice people or your friends can’t avoid stepping on a doormat. How often do you see a doormat being given a raise or promotion? Boundaries are essential to improving both your personal and professional relationships. The quicker you create and enforce them, the sooner you’ll be given the respect you desire.

Life Coach Tips: I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this, but it’s so critical for your success that it needs to be restated: take a moment to calm down and collect yourself before attempting to use this 4-step strategy. If you educate and ask calmly, it’s unlikely you’ll need to proceed from steps 1 and 2. However, with children be ready to move onto step 3 by preparing to enforce consequences for their actions. This does not involve threatening. Using the 4-step communication tool with children may look something like this:

  1. Educate: “Did you know that you did not put away your crayons that you used earlier?”
  2. Request: “I ask that you go upstairs and put the crayons back in the box now.”
  3. Demand: “If you don’t go put away your crayons, I will, and after I do, I’m going to give them to your cousin because he is going to like them enough to make sure they’re put away after he uses them.”

This involves a consequence that matters to the child; someone else is going to have their crayons, and they won’t be able to use them anymore. All you have to do now is walk upstairs, and the child will sprint behind you take care of their crayons. Consequences are not the same as threats, so enforce them. When you go through with your word, people will understand that you are serious and respond with the desired request or deal with the consequences. It typically takes one approach before the person begins changing their behavior from undesired to desired. But if they do not:

4. Leave: With these circumstances, you hopefully won’t leave your child, but you will take their crayons to give to a cousin. Doing this should make your child think twice before refusing to do what you expect from them.

Time To Raise Your Standards

On the contrary to boundaries, standards refer to the behavior that you hold yourself accountable for. It would be hypocritical for you to boldly declare that people can’t make rude comments to you when you are verbally abusive. By enforcing your boundaries, you’ll naturally raise your standards.

Just like boundaries, you can set your own standards. Do you want to never lie to your family? Never yell at your co-workers? Be punctual? Provide criticism only when asked? Decide on which standards you believe you can uphold instead of ones you think you need. An easy way to set standards is by looking at those who you admire and list their greatest qualities and think about or even ask what standards of behavior they employ. Now you can decide on which standards that you’d like to employ yourself.

While people may not immediately recognize your standard of refusing to scold others, eventually they will notice how you address people professionally and respectfully which they will acknowledge and appreciate.

Become A Certified Life Coach Today

This 4-step communication strategy is just one of the hundreds of useful and effective methods used by life coaches every day to improve the lives of their clients. If you’re interested in learning how you begin practicing as a trained certified life coach check out our online life coach certification program today.

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