The Power of Brevity and Clarity when Dealing with Difficult People

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” ~Thomas Jefferson

Most of us have experienced conflict with co-workers or clients at work. Managing conflict is different for everyone. Some run away from conflict. Some address it fearlessly. Most are in-between.

But, what if it’s not just resolving conflict that’s difficult. What if the person we are dealing with is incredibly challenging. All of us have experienced an interaction with someone that escalates or avoids and the problem does not get resolved. Are you thinking about someone right now?

Brevity and clarity are our best options for resolving the problem. When we are brief and clear – we make good sense. We set a natural boundary around the problem. When we ramble, we make the situation worse. Furthermore when dealing with a difficult person, it is paramount we are brief and clear to mitigate argumentativeness.

When in high stakes, high intensity situations, some over-explain and repeat. Others go silent. Now, add a difficult person into the mix, and, well, you see where I’m going.

When you’re going to have a challenging conversation with a difficult person, remember to be brief and be clear then remember these 5 points before going into the meeting:

  1. Focus on Problem not the person: To remain brief and clear, we must commit to focus on one problem, one topic. Focus on the   behavior.
  2. Know Thyself and Plan your responses: Be aware of your triggers and plan how you’ll respond when you’re triggered. Remember it’s not personal. Avoid overreacting.
  3. Use Visualization: Before you go into the meeting, visualize a positive resolution. See yourself talking and responding in a clear concise manner.
  4. Focus on facts only. Brevity and Clarity go out the window when we move beyond the topic being addressed. Focusing on the facts = Brevity and Clarity.
  5. Seek Feedback from a neutral 3rd party if necessary. Feedback is the breakfast of champions! Having someone walk you through different scenarios allows practice, planning and a different perspective.

Let us know some of your challenges in communicating with difficult people.


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