Are you working with, serving, or even living with someone who has a bad attitude? Dealing with people that are negative or passive are some of the most challenging relationships. Just being around someone who complains, whines, or just doesn’t say anything can cause you to feel frustrated, angry, or even helpless. Bad attitudes in the workplace can deteriorate morale, lower productivity, and increase costs. It doesn’t take much for a co-worker, manager, or customer to feel the negative affects from someone with a bad attitude. The good news is there is now a process we developed for dealing with these difficult people!

Step One: Determine Your Involvement

The purpose of this step is to help you determine whether or not to say or do anything once you encounter a difficult person. Ask yourself four questions:

  • Is this person important to you?
  • Has this happened before?
  • Does this bother you or other people?
  • Can you invest your time?

Step Two: Understand the Other Person

The purpose of this step is to avoid making any negative impressions about someone before learning the facts. Ask open-ended questions that start with:

  • Who…?
  • What…?
  • When…?
  • Where…?
  • How…?

Step Three: Influence his/her Attitude

The purpose of this step is to gain the other person’s agreement to change his/her attitude or behavior. Here are three ways to influence them:

  • Describe how you or other people feel.
  • Explain possible consequences.
  • Suggest other ways to think about the problem.

Step Four: Resolve the Problem

The purpose of this step is:

  • Define your future expectations.
  • Mutually discuss solutions.
  • Agree upon the best solution(s).

Step Five: Recover and Go On

The purpose of this step is to help you after the discussion. Once you have clarified the next steps, it is important to:

  • Regain your positive attitude.
  • Follow-through with commitments.
  • Recognize any change the other person makes in his/her attitude.

There are about 7500 different varieties of apples grown worldwide. Like apples, people are different. Each person has a unique set of experiences, based upon their culture and upbringing. Remember, no one can make you change your attitude or behavior. Likewise, when people try to deal with difficult people there are no guarantees. Your goal, as the facilitator, is to create an environment conducive to understanding and self-discovery. It is your job to help the learners to understand why people have bad attitudes and to utilize techniques for dealing with the situation.

Michele Matt, author of Attitude: The Choice is Yours, created Bad Apples™: How to Deal with Difficult Attitudes, a video training program she uses to help clients enhance individual performance and team relationships.