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Dealing with Difficult Behavior

Skills for Dealing with Challenging Behavior

Dealing with Difficult Behavior
& The Maslow Need Hierarchy - 7pg pdf

Coping With Malcontents

Difficult Behavior/Situation Worksheet - 1pg pdf
Dealing effectively with difficult behavior is a skill that can reap many rewards.

Left alone it will get worse, affect more people and continue to incur hidden costs for organizations in which it occurs. Most difficult behavior is accidental, but it can also be the result of intentional thought. Sometimes it is sporadic and takes us by surprise. At other times it is ongoing and forms patterns. Difficult behavior takes many forms. It includes foot dragging, ignoring orders, refusing to talk, being rude, yelling, ignoring, harassing, and much more.

Most conflict is about needs that have not been satisfied; often it is a result of psychological needs for control, recognition, affection, and respect. Problems arise in satisfying these needs when difficult behavior is rewarded. What doesn’t work? Ignoring the behavior, responding in kind, blaming rather than problem solving, labeling the person as difficult and trying to psychoanalyze.

No magic bullets, no panaceas. Changing behavior takes time, skill and a sense of humor about yourself and life.

Skills for Dealing with Challenging Behavior

Listening Skills

1. Disarming Technique — find some truth in what the other person is saying, even if you feel what they're saying is wrong, unreasonable, irrational or unfair.

Disarming is the most important technique in dealing with criticism, but the hardest to do. Since most of us are programmed to base our self-esteem on how much other people like and approve of us, criticism feels like a blow to our egos. When you agree with a criticism you immediately put the lie to it. When you argue and contradict the criticism, you prove that it's valid.

Ex: You're way too rational about every-thing. How about trying some feelings?
Disarm: You're right. I tend to be too logical sometimes and don't share what I'm feeling.

Ex: Your boss says: This report isn't very good. How could you spend all that time and turn out THIS?
You spent a great deal of effort on the report and feel proud of it. You're really angry and would like to tell the boss off.

Disarm: I guess I missed the boat on this report, although I worked hard on it. Could you tell me what you liked and didn't like about it?

2. Empathy — put yourself in the other person's shoes and try to see the world through her or his eyes.

Thought empathy — you paraphrase the other person's words. Reflect or mirror in a non-judgmental way to grasp what the other is saying.

Feeling empathy — you acknowledge how the other person is probably feeling, given what they are saying to you. You do not have to agree or disagree with the other person. Instead you repeat what they said and acknowledge how they might be feeling.

You might try one of these expressions in a gently tone of voice:
Ø What you seem to be saying…….
Ø It sounds like ….
Ø I take it that you think …
Ø Let me see if I'm getting this right……
Ø I just want to make sure that I understand what you're saying…

Ex. It sounds like you don't think I share my feelings enough (thought empathy) and are frustrated about it (feeling empathy).

Ex. I take you think that my report isn't good (thought empathy) and you're angry about it (feeling empathy).

3. Inquiry — ask gentle probing questions to learn more about what the person is thinking and feeling.

Expression Skills

1. I "feel" statements — you express your feelings with I feel statements such as "I feel upset/angry/ sad/rejected/misunderstood" rather than you statements such as "you're wrong" or "you're making me furious" or "I feel you're making me upset."

2. Stroking — you find something genuinely positive to say to the other person even in the heart of battle. This indicates that you respect them even though you may be angry with one another.