Centre for Continuing Education

Dealing with Difficult People Course

Business Communication. Sharpen your communication skills.

Eleanor Shakiba
Eleanor Shakiba is an expert in social and emotional intelligence. She has taught over 50,000 people to think and speak in ways which build success. She has been teaching at the Centre for Continuing Education for over ten years.

Eleanor’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Anthropology, Graduate Certificate in Applied Psychology, Graduate Diploma in Adult Education, Master Practitioner and Trainer certifications in accreditation to administer MBTI and DISC psychometric instruments and LEADR training in mediation. She writes and teaches in the areas of applied psychology, communication and conflict resolution.

Yes! It is possible to handle difficult behaviour confidently and constructively. Learn to recognise and respond to the behaviours and psychological games ‘difficult people’ use. Hear how to maintain your personal power when dealing with aggressive behaviours, such as shouting, talking over you or invading your personal space. Get tips for handling passive behaviours – including chronic complaining, emotional blackmail or playing ‘victim’. See how to handle passive-aggressive behaviours – such as sarcasm or pointed jokes without being roped into the passive-aggressive game.


This is an introductory level course, in which you’ll cover basic skills for handling difficult situations and disagreements at work. Use the principles of collaborative conversation to deal with challenging behaviours. Handle tough conversations with colleagues, managers and customers productively and professionally.


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

  • stay calm when handling challenging people
  • speak up assertively instead of being baited into playing unhealthy 'games'
  • respond to different behaviours people use to push your buttons
  • use five communication tools for responding assertively
  • maintain your boundaries when dealing with difficult behaviours
  • handle passive, aggressive and passive-aggressive behaviours assertively.


What is a difficult person?

The first step in dealing with difficult behaviour is working out exactly what you’re dealing with. Find out how to pinpoint three key communication styles – so you can work out what to do next. Use a handy tool to determine the style of difficult behaviour you’re facing.

Handling difficult behaviour assertively

In difficult situations, it’s important to stay calm and respond assertively. In this session, you’ll learn how to calibrate what’s going on and regulate your own emotions using the ABC method from Rational Emotive Therapy. This will help you stay cool, calm and collected.

Communication success kit

Explore five key communication tools which can help you stay in control during conversations with tough-to-manage people. Learn to use active listening, diagnostic questions, accord statements, boundary statements and solution-focused questions.

Dealing with passive communicators

Get tips for dealing with problematic passive behaviours such as playing victim, failing to make decisions or take initiative, staying quiet in meetings and failing to problem-solve.

Handling passive-aggression

Passive-aggression is a way of communicating hostility covertly. See how to recognise passive-aggressive tactics. Learn a step-by-step process for handling them.

Dealing with aggressive behaviour

Learn how to stay calm when other people attack you verbally. Hear how to set and maintain your personal boundaries around people who behave aggressively. Use a four- step process for handling aggressive behaviour.

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.

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

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

Recommended reading

There is no pre-course reading. However, some of the material has been taken from the book Difficult People Made Easy by Eleanor Shakiba. You will be provided with your own copy of the book in class, for you to keep.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Free, expert advice
  • 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

<p>{block name:“Course Tagline - Business Communication”}</p><p>{block name:“Course Message - Business and management”}</p><p>{block name:“Tutor - Eleanor Shakiba”}</p><p>Yes! It is possible to handle

Dealing with Difficult People Course

<p>{block name:“Course Tagline - Business Communication”}</p><p>{block name:“Course Message - Business and management”}</p><p>{block name:“Tutor - Eleanor Shakiba”}</p><p>Yes! It is possible to handle

Dealing with Difficult People Course

<p>{block name:“Course Tagline - Business Communication”}</p><p>{block name:“Course Message - Business and management”}</p><p>{block name:“Tutor - Eleanor Shakiba”}</p><p>Yes! It is possible to handle


What others say.

  • I went in with trepidation and came out empowered with life skills for all areas of my life. The tutor made you feel at ease and there was not one aspect of the course that I didn't like. I would recommend the Centre for Continuing Education to anybody who has a passion for more knowledge. I certainly will be back!
  • Awesome! Covered everything I wanted to know. Great content - a very helpful session.
  • Fantastic course - very practical which I'm sure will prove very useful!