Monday, August 17, 2009

One way to handle a high maintenance person

Six years ago, I volunteered for a group that included what many people called a difficult person. He expected special treatment, made a lot of noise, was pretty irritating at times, but was also valuable in many ways.

I was counseled by numerous people on how to handle him, ranging from "stay out of his way" to "kick him out."

Honestly, as I considered what to do, I felt frustrated, because it seemed no matter what advice I took, it would turn out undesirable.

So I did one thing that turned out pretty good: I treated him exactly like everyone else - not better, not worse, not more special or less special. I treated him the same. This approach was not supported by several of my cohorts, because they told me it would never work.

Well, it worked. And for the next year or two we were together, he was less maintenance than ever and still contributed. I never told him I was treating him the same, he just saw that it was the case. He never commented on it, never complained and, if anything, he was better than ever for our group.

Sometimes, we are intimidated and actually contribute to how difficult a person can be. In a way, I just played dumb (easy for me) and didn't consider his ego or the egos of others and played by the rules. It also kept all of the other guys' egos (including mine) in line, too.

Barry LaBov
LaBov and Beyond Marketing Communications

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