As a feed and grain executive, you may encounter difficult, aggressive and domineering behavior from both co-workers and customers. Aggressive and domineering people can be dealt with by standing up to them. They generally expect to be able to run over people, cause others to just walk away, or fight out of anger. Resist these temptations, especially the one to fight. Stay calm and collected and assert yourself. It is generally useless to argue with someone who is being openly aggressive, defensive or who is in attack mode. You don’t have to fight to win and be right. It’s like the song The Gambler; “you gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.” Going all-in now may not be the right move. Pushing them will only continue to make them act more negatively. Wait for the person to run out of some steam, and then calmly but forcefully express your opinions with confidence. Do not fight; only assertively express yourself. An aggressive and domineering person is not likely to change, but asserting yourself as someone who is not afraid of them will make them recognize you as such. Another tip for dealing with a domineering or aggressive person is to understand repeated behavior. If the person seems to act this way when under stress, choose other times to pursue topics and discussion. If Mondays mornings — or all day on Mondays — are times that such behavior tends to appear, then wait until another day. OK, so this might seem a little like avoidance, but why take a lashing if you don’t have to, and with some people you just have to recognize that you cannot change their behavior; you can only react to it.
Don’t take it personally
As humans it is in our nature to take the negative behavior of difficult and problem employees personally. However, you will be a better and happier manager if you can avoid doing so. In most cases, negativity and difficulty associated with an individual is actually about them and not about you. Try to not let it bother you. This is easier said than done. However, if you closely examine the difficult behavior of the individual, you will likely find they are difficult with everyone, not just you. Focus on the issue, use appropriate strategies for dealing with the difficult behavior, and don’t let it pull you down personally.
Improving behavior to improve your business
As we have said before, dealing with difficult people involves considerable communication and skill. As a manager, you can help the business by helping your subordinates recognize their negative behavior and understand how it is damaging to the business. By talking to your employees, pointing out situations of difficult and negative behavior, helping them set goals and monitoring their behavior, you can influence change that will make the workplace more enjoyable and more productive.
Remembering to think, controlling yourself and your responses, and communicating effectively will help you deal with the difficult people in your business. For useful additional philosophical approaches to dealing with difficult people, see www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com/dealing_with_difficult_people.html. The site suggests that the individuals who are the best at dealing with difficult people seek to, among other things, understand people and help people, build trust, find solutions, communicate well, act normally and recognize positive qualities. These are certainly useful tools and approaches to know.
Many managers (but not all) tend to be good “people” persons — ie., they enjoy working with people. However good your people skills are, they can still be honed and improved. The adage that managers “get things done through people” is a good approach to business management and fits well for the feed and grain industry. Good luck in dealing with the difficult folks!