leadership incorporated blog

April 26, 2010

Inspired To Succeed: with dysfunctional people

What kind of dysfunctional people are you dealing with?

I’m hearing a lot lately about challenges working with clients, co-workers and particularly management who:


Can’t communicate


Are clueless

Never shut up

Don’t listen

Worry incessantly

Are paralyzed by fear

Have a hidden agenda

Lack an attention span

Are in-denial

Make stupid decisions

Say one thing and do another

Build obstacles

Plant road mines

They take us by surprise, catch us off guard every time.

They make us mad

Throw us off-center

Trigger our self-doubt and insecurity

They confound us

They turn us into people we don’t want to be. And get in the way of doing business.


Wrong. Actually THEY don’t do any of this. WE do it to ourselves in their presence. And we can change that.

But if we’re not mindful, we can find ourselves doing exactly the thing we hate that they do.

They don’t listen and we find ourselves jumping in and not listening.

They scream and we end up yelling back.

They lie to us and we lie back to them and to others.

We become the thing we despise and don’t even notice it.

Here are 7 ways for leaders to be effective with dysfunctional people in business:

1. See how predictable they are. Plan for how you will respond — not react — when they do what they do.

2. Prioritize. Know what’s most important to you and what doesn’t matter. Pick your battles. Be intentional.

3. Take responsibility for your own pace. Choose not to get caught up in their energy.

4. Listen deeply to them. Listen for what’s underneath what they say or do.

5. Check your assumptions. Ask them “is this what you’re concerned about?”

6. Be honest with yourself.

7. Tell them the truth — without emotion and ask permission first. “Can I give you my honest perspective?” When they say yes (and they almost always will) tell them how you see the consequences of their behavior. “When you talk over me, you’re missing some important information.” OR “When you scream, it makes it harder for me to hear what you are trying to tell me.” OR “When you direct us to do X, it appears counterproductive to Y.”

Give them the space to process the information and be as patient with them as you’d want them to be with you in tackling your area of dysfunction 😉

Have an inspired week and feel free to let me know how it goes…


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