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Dealing with Difficult People

By Ashraf Al Shafaki


After attending this workshop you will be able to:

  • Better understand difficult people.
  • Become more excepted from difficult people.
  • Feel less frustrated from the actions and conversations of difficult people.
  • Make difficult see your point of view.
  • Live more peacefully with difficult people.
Duration: 2 days

Who Should Attend

  • Finding difficulty dealing with a tough coworker?
  • Having trouble dealing with a difficult spouse?
  • Finding it impossible to deal with a family member?
  • Your boss is too hard to deal with?

Bill Crawford Presentation

  • Exercise: Think of adjectives you would use to describe any difficult person you have ever encountered.
    • rude, obnoxious, loud, arrogant, demanding, rigid, crazy.
  • Cycle of conflict
  • They tell someone, they see us as the difficult person.
  • The fist game. Someone is A the other is B. (in 20 sec)
    • how many succeeded?
      • tickle technique
      • bribe (always works) [tapping into their internal motivation to hear what you have got to say as valuable to them]
      • force and pain (most popular) [show the result of this technique: everyone make a fist; result: tighter] -> motivating them to more resistance. The lesson of the fist.
  • Facts - Beliefs
  • Beliefs underlying difficult people
    • the world is unsafe, people are out to get them
    • their belief on the concept of trust and cooperation?
    • low self esteem, they are feeling bad about themselves (even though they may act high)
  • We believe "they made me angry", like that they are running our lives.
  • Be compassionate: (think what if they have lost a parent or spouse a few days ago)
  • Communication: Active resistance and Receptive (learning more about the situation)
  • Demo: "Bill you're wrong" vs. avoiding being hit in the first place
  • Reasons for others being difficult:
    • They need to tell you something: Listen, paraphrase what they say
    • They're afraid we don't understand the seriousness of their problem: don't ask them to "calm down", instead empathize (say you understand their point of view. you do not necessarily agree with them)
    • They don't believe we value their input or ideas: ask them for their ideas and/or help to solve this. (learn more about their key)
    • They are afraid if we win, they lose: (moving to the problem solving stage) blend their solution with your ideas.
    • Thy're afraid that we will blame or criticize them - Speak in a way that does not put them on the defensive.
  • Change "but" to "and".


  • Remember a difficult person you have met in your life. List his or her characteristics.
  • Describe a difficult situation you have encountered with a difficult person. Participants try to suggest an alternate way to deal with such situation.
  • Video of compassion with people.
  • Video of Bill Crawford (the physical resistance demonstration).
  • Bill Crawford slides in PowerPoint.
  • Cases
    • Bad case (cycle of conflict)
    • Good case
      • try to be receptive, try to understand their problem, ask them about it, show them that you understand it
  • Print out the cycle, slides and stuff (deliver to participants in handouts form).
  • Quranic verses supporting the concepts presented in the presentation.
  • Ask participants to view the Bill Crawford "Dealing with Difficult People" 4-parts video.


Try to understand the difficult person. Try to put yourself in his shoes. Look from his point of view. Try to understand why he is reacting or behaving in that particular way. Try to empathize with him. Listen to him attentively. Do not try to force your opinion or your understanding of things on him. Let him go his way, in fact support him in going his way, push the extra mile towards his direction, then you will reach the point of zero resistance from him then and only then will you be able to bring him your way. Use subtle suggestive language with difficult and opinionated people to try and influence them in an indirect way.

Further Points

  • Use video projector (PowerPoint presentation with photos, diagrams and graphs).
    • Graph from Google Trends showing the search trend for "difficult people".
  • Printout handouts for participants for later reference after the workshop.
  • Cycle of conflict
  • ادفع بالتى هى أحسن
  • ونزعنا ما فى صدورهم من غل


  • Role play: difficult manager speaking with subordinate
  • Case study: coworker insisting on his point of view (insisting verbally and action wise)

Dealing with Difficult People