Your Route to the top: Handling tricky people

Every team has its share of sceptics, stress-heads and shy types. But managing them needn't be difficult too...

Last Updated: 25 Oct 2010

Get to the heart. Whether it's a colleague, client or boss, it's better to try to understand tricky people than to avoid them. Work out how they see things and then find a way to work comfortably with them.

Control the control feak. If your boss is the anxious type, pre-empt his concerns. To stop him jumping in as your finger reaches for the send button, share your ideas upfront.

Don't get dumped on. If your manager tends to deliver 'top priority' tasks for 'urgent' projects and then disappear, help her to focus. Ask her to describe her ideal result: what, when, and how does she want it? By forcing her to think it through, you'll avoid unreasonable last-minute changes.

Silence the sceptic. When presenting the new talent-management plan, ask questions to understand what makes the doubters tick. Listen carefully. Identify the root of their problem and you can address their real concerns.

Help shy people shine. A silent figure in the boardroom may be confident online. If they're brimming with ideas but can't articulate face to face, why not brainstorm over Skype instead? Find a way to communicate that works for them.

Calm the stress cadet. If your colleague is in regular meltdown, concentrate her attention on what can be done here and now. Battling a presentation, pitch and project work? Small steps will lead to significant results.

Resist charmers. Don't get taken in by empty, eloquent flair. Ask tough questions to keep them on track. Try: 'What does that mean in practice?' Help them distinguish between dreams and reality and you'll get the best of both.

Look again. Whatever behaviour we're up against, we must be aware of our own impact. Feeling brave? Write a character profile of yourself - which tactics would work for you?

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 -

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