There are all sorts of difficult, disruptive people on any given campus. Some may push your buttons while others may push you to the brink of distraction. Yet, when it comes down to it, difficult people are, at the base, just people. So, learning to contend with them effectively is one of the most humane – and one of the smartest – things you can do.  Here are some points to keep in mind as you keep disruptive people in perspective…

  • Most People Just Want to be Listened to. Are you practicing reflective listening when talking with individuals so that they know you are hearing and absorbing what they have to say?
  • People are Socialized in Different Ways. When someone does something that you consider rude, consider the fact that they may not have been socialized in the same way that you were. Your points of reference are likely different as a result of different upbringings and lived experiences.
  • We All Need Attention. And some people may go about seeking that attention by being difficult. Perhaps you can turn the tide by recognizing them for positive attributes instead so they may not feel the need to solicit negative attention.
  • Too Much Attention Can Backfire. When difficult people see that they’re getting a rise out of you, this can reinforce their negative behaviors. Keep your reactions in check.

We all need an outlet. Dealing with difficult folks can take its toll. That’s why it’s important to have a confidential sounding board at your disposal. Talk with your advisor/supervisor about the struggles you’re facing. An objective party can often help you wade through hurt feelings, anger and frustration to come up with more effective ways to manage the turkeys trying to get you down.

For more information like this to help student leaders do their jobs effectively, tap into our Orientation Training Tools Package filled with Fact Sheets for Orientation Leaders, comprehensive PowerPoint presentations and a Facilitator’s Guide.