Centre for Continuing Education

Dealing with Difficult People Course

Business Communication. Sharpen your communication skills.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses online and in-person. Please check the delivery format of each class before enrolling.

Please note that course materials (excluding prescribed texts) are shared electronically within 48 hours of course commencement. Printing is not available.


Yes! It’s possible to handle difficult behaviour confidently and constructively. Learn what drives challenging behaviour and how to manage the dynamics of a tough conversation. Hear how to remain calm and keep conversations issue-focused, rather than taking things personally. Learn to take an active-constructive approach to listening, problem-solving and handling others' emotions.

During this interactive course, you’ll explore five tools for responding professionally to difficult behaviour. These are active listening, diagnostic questions, accord statements, boundary statements and solution focused questions.

Aims

This is an introductory course for professionals who need to manage disagreements, complaints or ‘personality clashes’ at work. The techniques covered in this course can be used when interacting with colleagues, direct reports and customers. They can also be used when managing up and influencing when you have no direct authority.

Outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • stay calm when handling difficult behaviour or managing disagreements
  • speak assertively and respectfully, even in tough situations
  • respond to a range of challenging behaviours in ways that de-escalate conflict
  • use five communication tools to connect and collaborate in tough situations
  • take a win-win approach to resolving differences of opinion.

Content

Handling difficult behaviour assertively

In difficult situations, it’s important to stay calm, responsive and solution-focused. In this session, you’ll learn how regulate your own emotions using the ABCDE process from positive psychology. This will help you communicate confidently and assertively, without becoming defensive or aggressive.

Communication success kit

Discover how to communicate fluently, flexibly and adeptly under pressure. Explore five communication tools which can help you stay in control during tough conversations. These are active listening, diagnostic questions, accord statements, boundary statements and solution focused questions. As you learn each tool, you’ll consider how to use it in your own workplace.

Dealing with passive communicators

Passive behaviours include playing victim, failing to make decisions, staying quiet in meetings and passing problems on to others. In this session, you’ll learn how to create a supportive conversation and avoid getting caught up in victim-rescuer dynamics. This allows you to collaborate, rather than dominate, when interacting with passive communicators.

Handling passive-aggression

Passive-aggression is a way of communicating hostility covertly. Examples of passive-aggressive behaviour include sarcasm, pointed comments, smart remarks and gossip. Learn a step-by-step process for setting boundaries when these behaviours emerge during challenging conversations.

Dealing with aggression

Aggressive behaviour happens when someone stands up for themselves, but in a way that violates your boundaries. Learn how to stay calm when faced with aggressive behaviour. Use four simple steps to manage the situation calmly and professionally.

Managing conflict constructively

Learn how three principles of win-win negotiation can be used to address conflict professionally. Hear how to separate people from problems, distinguish between needs and positions and pursue fairness as you negotiate positive ways forward.

Who teaches this course?

Eleanor Shakiba is a leading people skills trainer, based in Sydney. She has taught over 50,000 people – like you- to use breakthrough thinking and communication tools. She has written over ninety training courses and produced 12 audio programs to help you excel at work.

Eleanor is qualified in Social Anthropology, Adult Education, Applied Psychology and Mediation. She writes and teaches in the areas of applied psychology, communication and conflict resolution. Her passion is helping professionals learn skills for success in the real world.

Intended audience

Suitable for all managers, team leaders, supervisors and individuals wishing to enhance their skills in dealing with difficult people or aggressive behaviour in the workplace.

Delivery style

This is an interactive course which covers the why, what and how of dealing with difficult behaviour. You’ll learn through a variety of methods including:

  • small group discussions
  • role plays or simulations
  • written exercises in which you will apply key concepts
  • Q&A sessions with the trainer.

Delivery options:

  • presenter-taught, face-to-face workshop
  • online workshop via the platform Zoom.

You will get the most out of this course if you are:

  • willing to contribute to group discussions
  • confident communicating verbally in small groups
  • comfortable participating in role-play style activities.

Materials

Course notes are provided electronically.

Recommended reading

No specific pre-course reading is required. However, some of the material has been taken from the book Difficult People Made Easy by Eleanor Shakiba.

Features

  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

What others say.

  • An excellent tutor who not only has the knowledge, but is an excellent communicator. I learnt a lot not just from what was taught to us, but also from how the tutor communicated with the participants.

  • An extremely worthwhile day, and I learnt more than I expected about my own style of being difficult.

  • The course is very practical and helps to deal with people problems at work and privately. There are many tools and approaches offered, and once mastered they are useful. Recommended course for people dealing with interpersonal relationship situations at work.

  • A great and informative day! I got so much out of this for both my work and personal life.

  • This course was brilliantly run, relevant and engaging. The presenter did a great job and provided a great toolkit for dealing with difficult people. I now feel empowered to make some changes in the workplace, as well as my personal life.

  • Loved this course – felt like the foggy glasses were taken off!

  • I would recommend anyone who is working in the workplace to attend as well as those who are having family issues.

  • The course content was very useful, and also a real eye opener! It definitely equips individuals with the ability to identify and deal with the different behaviours and team dynamics. The concepts can be applied to all relationships, not just professional/corporate. The tutor was very knowledgeable and also made the course delivery fun. A great course that I would definitely recommend to everybody! I certainly walked away impressed, confident and equipped.

  • Tutor was very experienced, engaging and kept everyone focused. After learning the tools to deal with difficult people, I came away with a very positive and confident attitude.

  • Just the most brilliantly useful course. 100% satisfied.

  • The course gave me a new understanding of how people behave and how we can control the way they impact on us.

  • This was a great course and was immediately useful in helping me deal with the difficult people in my workplace.

  • I thought the tutor and the content was fantastic. I would like to do more courses with this tutor because they were highly entertaining and informative. I have been telling my friends about this course and recommending it. The tutor was simply excellent!

  • I thought the course and the tutor were both great. I learnt a lot about not only the difficult people I deal with but also about myself and when I become difficult to deal with.

  • The course provided a solid theoretical background and a variety of practical solutions for dealing with difficult people. A very engaging and insightful teacher and I would highly recommend this course.

  • The workload was balanced well. There was a good range of teaching strategies and use of media. Workshop was useful and relevant.

Dealing with Difficult People Course

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What others say.

  • The course is very practical and helps to deal with people problems at work and privately. There are many tools and approaches offered, and once mastered they are useful. Recommended course for people dealing with interpersonal relationship situations at work.
  • I thought the course and the tutor were both great. I learnt a lot about not only the difficult people I deal with but also about myself and when I become difficult to deal with.
  • The course gave me a new understanding of how people behave and how we can control the way they impact on us.
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