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How to Lead Difficult People

One major lesson of college is learning how to work with people. This includes group projects, jobs, internships or student organizations. While many of those interactions are positive experiences, we’re all bound to run into those uncomfortable, negative group experiences. These experiences with difficult people can often lead to tension or discord within a group, thus making it challenging for a team to accomplish their goals. However, with a few helpful tips, you’ll be able to effectively work with all kinds of people, and ultimately lead your group to success!

Keep an Open Mind

The easiest way to navigate difficult situations with others is to understand that everyone is speaking from a different perspective. Not being able or willing to hear other people’s thoughts and opinions is one of the quickest ways to create tension within a group. Having an open mind, and taking time to understand other people’s viewpoints will not only keep peace, but also foster new ideas as a result of a collaboration.

Find the Problem

If conflict arises within a group, your first step is to identify the source of the problem. This can be done by actively listening to the person with the issue, and asking for clarification of their concern. Without fully understanding what the issue is, group members won’t be able to fully address the problem. When speaking with the problematic person, it’s important to acknowledge the issue without them feeling attacked. Highlight the problem in a way that isn’t personal to the individual, but rather as an issue all of the group members are working to solve.

Work to Mitigate the Situation

After identifying what the issue is and its root cause, group members should collaboratively work together to find a solution. Identify what has been done in the past to solve this issue, and what new solutions might exist for a better situation.

Other Helpful Tips

You must understand that not every problem is quickly solvable. Solutions sometimes take time, and that’s okay. Remaining friendly, optimistic, and upbeat will bring a positive energy to your group, ultimately helping in your group’s success. Focus on what can be done in the future by understanding what went wrong in the past. Use this opportunity to inspire your group members to achieve what ultimately brought the group together in the first place.

Again, while working with difficult people is oftentimes frustrating, with a bit of patience and problem solving skills, any group can navigate those situations.

By Christine Babish

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