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Motivating Difficult People

By: Edward T. Reilly (Editor)

In the book AMA Business Boot Camp, edited by Edward T. Reilly, president and chief executive officer of American Management Association International, AMA identifies some difficult people and what to do about them.

The Staller. This person resists moving forward on a project. Faced with such a person, compare his or her performance in your project with participation in other projects. Are they different? If the person only stalls when working with your projects, he or she may need a different work environment. Figure out to what extent his talents and career goals match the current work

The Emotional Hothead. This person blows up at you and other team members when things don’t go his or her way. The source of the explosions may be stress. The solution may be to help your emotional hothead respond to stress in a different way.

The Complainer. Your goal is to turn the complainer from a problem seeker to a problem solver. Show complainers how problem seeking is a valuable skill—when it’s applied right. It’s a good thing that someone has the keen eye to notice that some situations and practices don’t meet high standards. The appreciation is appreciated by others when it (a) shows a sense of priorities related to the project at hand and (b) is followed by a suggestion about correcting the problem.

Backstabbers. Some backstabbers default to a passive-aggressive style of retaliation if they feel the least bit threatened by a person or by information. Direct confrontation will only aggravate the situation, so ask questions that invite information about the person’s goals and desires. Other backstabbers use the tactic consciously to reduce someone else’s power. With someone like that, be direct. Find out what that person wants and how you can provide benefit to each other.

Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from AMA Business Boot Camp edited by Edward T. Reilly. Copyright 2013, American Management Association. Published by AMACOM. For more information, visit amacombooks org