I had a recent encounter with an unreasonable person. You’ve all been there before – trying to reason with an incredibly difficult person, which is as irritating as it is frustrating. There are many techniques to deal with unreasonable people. I wanted to share my top five.
Don’t pre-judge. I think most people can probably tell immediately when they’ve come upon an unreasonable person. But in business circles, most of the time, a colleague is introducing you to someone so the two of you can talk biz. And you might hear,“Be careful, he’s a real pistol.” Don’t let that put you on the defensive or pre-judge anyone. You might actually hit it off with each other.
Trust your gut. When it becomes obvious that you’re dealing with an unreasonable person, trust your gut. There’s rarely an upside in these situations. Follow the rest of my simple tips and then get the heck out of there!
Stay calm. This sounds simple enough, but let’s look at the ROI – when you’re calm, you process information more effectively. You make better decisions. Sometimes, unreasonable people can get quite defensive if they don’t think you’re taking them seriously. So remain calm, look them in the eye and focus on what they are telling you.
Look for tells. Just like in poker, everyone has a tell. In my experience, unreasonable people either want something from you (desperately) or they are trying to avoid something (accountability). Find the answers to these two questions and you’ll be in a better position to engage.
Conduct a debriefing. Find a friend or trusted colleague and relay what happened. Get some feedback on how you think you handled the encounter. Chalk up what you learn to experience and move on.