One of the aspects of running a small business is learning how to deal with difficult people. These people can be clients, customers, vendors or even employees. Sometimes they can even be your business partner. Knowing how to deal with difficult people in difficult situations can make doing business a lot easier.
Tip #1 – Listen to the Complaints
If you are confronted with a difficult person it is important to listen to their complaint, regardless of what it is. After you listen to their complaint have them write it down and sign their name to it. Then sign your name on the complaint to indicate that you have read it and that you are aware of the problem. This will act as evidence that you at least acknowledged the complaint and that you took time to talk with the person.
Tip #2 – Determine the Underlying Problem
People that are difficult rarely complain about what is really aggravating or upsetting them. For example, they may be having problems at home and since they don’t want to acknowledge these problems they complain about everything else. If you have an employee that is being difficult, like they are causing conflicts at work or making unsubstantiated complaints, then it is a good idea to set up a meeting with them and to talk about what is going on. Once the underlying problem is revealed you will be able to find a solution that will improve the situation for everyone.
Tip #3 – Know When to Call in Help
Some people that are difficult are not going to change regardless of the efforts that you make, and sometimes their difficult nature will push boundaries that can be dangerous for your company. If you notice that a client, vendor or employee is pushing your safety boundaries you need to take steps to protect your company. These steps will usually involve talking with your attorney.
Tip #4 – Utilize Witnesses
When dealing with difficult people in a business setting you always want a third party present to act as a witness. A witness will be able to substantiate what happened during the encounter or the meeting. They will also help to inhibit violent and inappropriate behavior by the difficult person.
Tip #5 – Document Your Encounters
If your problems with a difficult person escalates to a point where there is a lawsuit either filed by you or them, having documentation about what transpired will help you immensely. You will want to write up a report about every meeting, incident and problem that occurs involving the difficult person. You will want to date and sign each incident report and have someone else sign the report to testify that what is contained in the report is accurate and that they also witnessed the event.