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Dealing With Difficult People Short Course

Unit Standard

9533 (3 Credits) in the Business Administration Level 3 Qualification


1 day


Classroom or Online


Irate customers, prickly colleagues and meddlesome managers are just some of the difficult people we will all have to deal with in our careers. These people can be uncooperative, uncommunicative, uncompromising, and often, just plain unpleasant to work with. No matter who it comes from, the stress that dealing with difficult people causes can really hurt  even to the point that it affects productivity through illness and absenteeism.

This 1day Dealing with Difficult People program will equip you with the skills needed to deal with all types of difficult people. Eyeopening case studies and practical suggestions will demonstrate how you can better deal with volatile situations and prevent these from affecting your performance and causing you unnecessary stress. Knowing how to deal with difficult people at work will allow you to approach your job with more enjoyment and colleagues with greater confidence.


  • Identifying various situations where you are most likely to encounter difficult people
  • Identifying the four main types of difficult people and gaining a proven approach for dealing with each type
  • Understanding the current relationships in your life and identifying ways in which you can improve the “not so good” relationships which my be causing you unnecessary stress
  • Holding your own and maintaining your composure
  • Identifying, accepting and dealing with emotions and feelings evoked by difficult people
  • Extra skills for talking to difficult people on the phone
  • Learning how to successfully handle customer complaints – moving them from ‘irate’ to ‘satisfied’
  • Some key problem-solving and decision-making techniques that you can use to your advantage
  • Separating cultural differences from difficult behaviour
  • Examining the conflict-handling framework and how you can apply it to successfully resolve any conflict situation
  • Understanding why difficult conversations are necessary if you want to be successful


Identifying what is Difficult Behaviour and the Causes of it

• Defining what is a difficult person and what is difficult behaviour
• Establishing a benchmark or determinant of what is regarded as difficult behaviour in your workplace
• Identifying who is the difficult person who is making the situation worse than what it should be.

Different Types of Difficult People

• Customers Complaints, criticisms and explosive emotions
• Colleagues Personality clashes and strained office environments
• Staff Disappointments, performance management and discipline
• Superiors Expectations, misunderstandings and differences of opinion

The Communication Model

• Understanding what a the true business communication model looks like
• Identifying factors that can cause potential barriers and threats to effective communication
• Realising the impact of poor communication and how misunderstandings can lead to difficult behaviour and confusion

Maintaining your Composure

• How selfconfidence enables you to control your actions 
• Using assertive behaviour to “defuse” a difficult situation 
• Being professional versus taking criticism personally 
• What to do when you feel like exploding!

Dealing with Emotions and Feelings

• Identifying the feelings behind the words or actions
• Dealing with all feelings not just the problem 
• Displaying understanding and empathy
• The “Platinum Rules” for solving emotion related problems

Dealing with Difficult People – In Person, Telephonically or Virtually

• Calming the Aggressive Person 
• Dealing with the Assertive Person
• Encouraging the Passive Person
• Handling Abusive Individuals when they go too far
• Words to use (or avoid) that make a difference

Handling a Customer Complaint

• Being aware of key service areas that, if neglected, can lead to an upset customer
• Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes 
• Golden rules for dealing with complaints
• Positive body language for facetoface communications 
• Turning complaints into opportunities and preventing additional complaints

Problem Solving and Decision Making

• Identifying your decisionmaking profile and problemsolving approach
• Making use of proven steps in analysing a problem
• Identifying the 3 main steps in problem solving 
• Understanding how to evaluate possible solutions and choose the best option

Handling Conflicts and Personality Clashes

• How to deal with conflicts between yourself and colleagues 
• Tips and steps to problemsolve and overcome workplace conflicts
• The use of active listening to resolve conflicts

Understanding and Accommodating Diversity

• Dealing effectively with different personality types
• Preventing gender differences from resulting in conflict
• Understanding cultural differences in the South African business environment