We’ve all had the unpleasant experience of dealing with someone that is almost impossible to please. Whether it is a coworker, client or even the boss there are some people that never seem happy no matter what we do. Often our first reaction is to respond immediately when this person lashes out at us but it is almost always best if we calm down before attempting to reason with them.
Although we might think that it is impossible to communicate effectively with this type of person there are some strategies that work surprisingly well with persons of this personality type. Take a deep breath, calm down and try the following approaches only after you yourself are no longer frustrated.
Be Specific – Focus on a Specific Issue and NOT the Other Person
The last thing that you want is an argument. You want to make your feelings understood without placing the other person on the defensive. This will solve nothing. Use nonthreatening statements such as "I feel frustrated when you promise to do something but there is no follow-through." Or “I become very frustrated when things don’t get done as promised”. In this way you are not placing blame on the other person but simply explaining what it is that is bothering you. Don’t speak in a harsh tone and remember that body language is important too so no finger pointing or aggressive stares!
Be a Good Listener
When the other person is speaking listen carefully and don’t react or interrupt when they are talking. Again, staying calm is the key and even if you disagree with what you are hearing it’s important to give the other person their turn to speak. Show them that you respect them enough to actually listen and they might return in kind. If you don’t listen to their point of view they certainly won’t listen to yours and nothing will be resolved.
Try to Understand WHY
A person that is difficult to deal with is behaving this way for a reason. Whether it is fear, insecurity or anger there is a reason for it. If you can understand the emotions behind their behavior it will become possible to deal with them in a much more effective manner. If you can deal with them in a way that relieves their concerns you will then be able to get your point across without them reacting in such a negative manner.
State Your Needs Clearly and with Compassion
Often dealing with a frustrated person involved a lot of sarcasm, rudeness and even shouting on their part. If you are able to show compassion and a level of understanding while stating your needs it is likely that they will deescalate in their abrasive attitude. A simple statement such as "I'd really appreciate you not shouting at me even if I disappoint you" might be enough to calm them down so a more effective dialogue can be established. If this doesn’t work it is possible that minimal or no communication with this person is your only option.
Regardless of the outcome at least you can say that you tried your best even if the only solution was a parting of the ways.