Webinar Recap: How to Deal with "Difficult" People

Webinar Recap: How to Deal with "Difficult" People

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With webinar series "Bolder, Braver, and Better Paid," I am working towards my mission of helping women double their income and impact. 

This is a quick recap of the kick-off webinar "How to Win Over Difficult People." 

I give an example from my own life, when I felt that my manager was difficult, that he had power over me, and that I wasn't given the chance to speak at meetings. 

Download the one-page PDF of open questions here:bit.ly/2MC8xu4 

Full Episode Transcript

Hello! Welcome to Episode 33 of Born to Thrive with Jamie Lee. I’m your host and coach, Jamie Lee.

Yesterday, I had the wonderful privilege of hosting a webinar on the topic of how to win over difficult people and today I thought I’d like to give you a quick recap on that webinar and also invite you to the next one which will be on September 12th at noon. At the second webinar we will be exploring the negotiation framework. The seven elements of negotiation framework and how they fit into salary conversations, for example.

So, if you are preparing for a salary negotiation, a job offer negotiation, you won’t want to miss it. I’ll have the registration link up shortly, but for now, mark your calendar and I hope to see you soon, in two weeks, at the next webinar.

I’m doing this series of free webinars, I’m calling them Bolder, Braver, Better Paid, because I am on a mission to help double women’s income and impact. This is really important to me because I know first-hand that when women have financial abundance, people benefit, families benefit, children benefit, communities benefit.

My mother was a role model for me. My mother is a role model for me, I should say. And she is a single mother, immigrant, still speaks broken English, and she created the abundance with hard work, diligence, so that all three of us daughters can go to college and become gainfully employed professionals.

And so, I just love the idea of helping women double their income and impact because I know that that will create exponential results in our world.

This week I had some of my best clients see some really amazing results in their performance reviews, in their communication with loved ones and in their own lives and I’m just so amazed and I feel privileged to be part of this amazing transformation that they create because they are stepping into their own power. Owning their own value, living their purpose and making a contribution.

That’s what this is all about. It’s about making a contribution.

That said, yesterday, as I said, we had a really exciting and engaging conversation on how to win over difficult people. And I shared an example from my own life, when I felt stressed out and frustrated because I felt that my manager didn’t have my back. I felt that my manager had power over me and I felt my manager was cutting me off every chance he could.

So the situation was this: Ten years ago, I was working in a hedge fund as a qualitative analyst. I was gathering information, news information, research and I would put together a comprehensive report to be reviewed with the entire team of stock traders. And every week I would distribute the reports that I put together and then I would start to speak, I would say, “Uh, so this week…”

And as soon as I said those words, almost immediately, my manager, whom I will call “Sam” for now, would cut me off and say “This means duh duh duh duh duh and duh duh duh duh duh,” you know? He really didn’t give me a chance to have my say or so was the thought I had back then and so this made me feel, like I said, powerless, resentful, frustrated and even depressed.

And so, what did I do because I was feeling this way? I didn’t do much of anything.

Because I was feeling powerless and because I had the thought, the belief, that he had power over me, I didn’t speak up. I didn’t try to butt in. I didn’t interrupt the interrupter and say, “Well, thank you, Sam, for that and also what I’ve noticed is this,” or “Thank you, Sam, I was just about to say that. Let me share with the team some of my updates.”

I didn’t proactively seek out opportunities to present my findings. I sort of interpreted the situation as something negative. I gave it a negative interpretation and then let that negative interpretation create negative emotion in action and the result was that the situation continued for two years until I left the fund.

And so, I share this story with you to demonstrate the power of our thinking and the power is because of the thought.

Yesterday, I walked the attendees through the root of all behavior and basically, you can understand the root of all behavior by exploring the thought model.

And the thought model is this: There is a neutral circumstance about which we have a thought or an opinion and often we have default thinking. We’re not consciously creating thoughts about circumstances, we just have the knee-jerk reaction thought, and for me, back then, ten years ago, that was that I am powerless, and that thought creates the feeling that generates the action that generates the results.

And so, the trap here, when we allow for the default thinking, for me again, the example that I shared was I am powerless. And I notice that many people who feel that negotiation is very difficult or they struggle with it, they also have similar thinking around negotiation.

They have the thought that the other side has power over them. They have the thought that they hate it. They have the thought that they can’t do it. And the pitfall in continuing to have these default thoughts is you fall into the 3-A Trap.

And the 3-A Trap is you Avoid, you Accommodate, and then eventually that resentment and that anger from accommodating and avoiding the situation it builds up to such a level that then you explode and then you Attack.

So the 3-A Trap is Avoid, Accommodate, Attack.

And the really tragic thing about the 3-A Trap is that sometimes you attack the wrong people. You don’t even attack the people at whom you are angry. You go home and then you attack the people who are closest to you but don’t have recourse to fight back, like your children or your partners, and I have experienced this myself and I believe this is something that Brene Brown has termed the Chandelier Effect. When that pain and that shame of avoiding and accommodating something that is really bothering you and it continues until you just chandelier, you just let that pain spill over to the people closest to you.

So this is unsustainable, it doesn’t help you, it doesn’t help your career, it doesn’t help the people who are closest to you. How do we get out of the 3-A Trap?

My suggestion to getting out of the 3-A Trap and to dealing with difficult situations and difficult people is to first, let’s just revisit the facts.

What are the facts of the situation?

And a fact is defined as something that everyone - you, them, people who are not involved in the situation, everyone - would agree to be true.

So, let me give you an example of that. Right now, it is 76 degrees in the room that I’m in. If you walked up to the thermometer, it would read 76 degrees. You would see the number 76. And everyone who can see it would agree that it is reading 76, right? That’s a fact. Everyone will agree.

However, in a difficult situation, we often have thoughts that are subjective. In other words, they are opinions, they are judgments, often they are subjective.

I had the thought that I was powerless. I had the thought that my manager did not respect me. Would everyone agree that I don’t have power? Would everyone agree that my manager did not have my back?

I mean, I had the thought, but does that make it absolutely true? Just because I have the thought that my manager is difficult, would everyone agree that he is indeed difficult?

I think the answer is no.

Yesterday, one of the webinar attendees asked a brilliant question when I was discussing this point. This person asked, “Okay, so does this mean that nobody is in fact difficult?” That’s something to think about right? Is it true that anyone is in fact difficult. Just because I have the thought that you are difficult, doesn’t make it true.

When I was growing up as a young, immigrant kid in New Jersey, I was often the only Asian kid, the only “yellow” kid in the classroom, and I was called several things. One of them was Chinese. I’m Korean, but a lot of people said, “Oh, go back to China!”

Did that make it true, because people had the thought that I was from China and that I should go back to China?

No! Absolutely not!

So, go back to the facts only. To return to the example I gave earlier, ten years ago, when I was a hedge fund manager, I had a job. That’s a fact, right?

I put together the reports. That’s a fact.

I attended weekly team meetings. That’s a fact.

I also did not have prior experience in finance. That is a fact. Everyone will agree that to be true because I don’t have a finance degree, I did not work in finance before I had that job at the hedge fund.

I got the job because I speak English, Korean and Japanese. That’s a fact.

I distributed the reports. That’s a fact.

I started to speak. That’s a fact.

And my manager spoke. Again, that’s a fact.

So, when we just consider the simple facts of the situation and just look at it from a purely objective point of view, what comes up to me, what this brings up for me is a new way of seeing the situation.

And I do have a bias for optimism and positivity. I’m a relentless optimist and so what I also see is that wow, I was there. I was part of a hedge fund with no background, no experience, not a lot of knowledge. I had a task. I did my task. I showed up to the meeting. And I also see, I had power. I had the power to speak up. I had the power to interrupt the interrupter if I had a different way of looking at the situation.

What if I came to the meeting with a thought that I am here to learn. I have a lot more to learn. What if I came to the meeting with a thought I am going to share my opinions no matter what the other side thinks? I am going to ask questions if I am not clear instead of staying quiet. Because now that I’m talking about this out loud I realize there’s a part of me that just didn’t want to seem stupid and so I held back out of fear of looking bad.

So, I want to wrap this up with a list of questions, some questions for you to consider when thinking about difficult people, difficult situations, how to negotiate them.

The first is: What are the facts? Facts only. Not your thoughts, not your current default thinking, but just the facts.

And from there: What are some new thoughts that you would want to have? If the current thinking you have is creating negative emotion, how do you want to feel in an ideal situation? And if you were feeling the way you would ideally feel, how would you think about the situation?

And for me, now that I’m looking back to my hedge fund experience, I would want to feel proud, I would want to feel confident and the thought that I would want to have in that feeling good place would be I am here and I am contributing value.

Another question: What are they thinking that makes them do that? What are they thinking that makes them do that? And for me, in my experience, it’s possible, it’s very possible that my manager Sam had the thought that he had to do it all. He was a workaholic.

So, what about the people in your life that you feel are being difficult. What are they thinking, do you think, that’s making them do what they do? What is their thought model, in other words? What’s driving their behavior?

And also one other question I want to leave you with is: What is the solution to this problem? If you just consider the facts only and think about, okay, now that we’re just looking at the facts and not our opinions, our judgments, what can be done? How can we resolve this? What is a possible solution?

I have put together a one-page pdf of a summary of this discussion that we had yesterday as well as some other open-ended questions that you might want to consider for yourself as well as ask the other side in a negotiation.

So, if you’re interested, reach out to me at jamie@jamieleecoach.com. My website is, again, jamieleecoach.com and I look forward to hearing from you, seeing you at the next free webinar on September 12th, as well as future free webinars. I am doing this because I’m on a mission to help create exponential results in my client’s lives and to double women’s income and impact.

Thank you, and I will talk to you soon.


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