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Introduction - Pg. xiv

xiv Introduction You can choose your spouse (but not your children). You can choose your friends. But you don't always have the option of choosing who you work with, your boss, or your employees. We all find ourselves dealing with "difficult" people at work. And, boy, the versatility of difficult people is amazing. From foot-dragging, to whining and complaining, to sabotage and unreasonable bosses, difficult people seem to have an uncanny ability to make life miserable. Mostly, they aren't bad people. In fact, they are probably more similar to you than you might imagine. Most difficult behavior is of the garden-variety type. Annoying, frustrating, and a nuisance, it's be- havior that you and I and most people use at one time or another. We're all difficult sometimes. Except, of course, for the more serious difficult people who ARE bad people. These folks seem to dedicate their lives to being consistent pains in the behind. I hope you don't have any of those! I've worked in the field of verbal abuse and difficult people for over 10 years now, offering seminars and writing on the topic. I've had a chance to talk to thousands of people, just like you, who have to contend with people they find difficult. So this book, while containing many of my ideas, also contains the input of many of those thousands who have come up with good, practical ways of coping ... no, that's not right ... succeeding with difficult employees, coworkers, bosses, and customers. In writing this book, I tried to do two things. First, I want to help you understand what difficult people are about and why they do what they do. That's important for creating a positive mind-set so you can manage difficult situations and not become a victim of them yourself. The second goal is to help you figure out what to do. Much of difficult behavior can be counterbalanced. In fact, by learning to manage it, you may very well be able to reduce or even eliminate it. When you refuse to play the difficult person's game, it becomes no fun anymore, and he or she will move on to find another victim or just give up the game completely. How to Use This Book We divided this book into six sections. Each has a slightly different focus, but I recommend that you read all the chapters. My suggestion is that you don't read too much at one sitting, since you can get overwhelmed. Read a few chapters at a time. Think about them for a day or two. Use some of the techniques to manage the difficult, then read a few more chapters. Here's how the book is set up. Part 1," You Can't Smack 'Em--Manage Them Instead," helps you understand why difficult people seem so difficult, and what they are after. We'll outline some of the techniques of the difficult. And we'll explain why it's so important to manage them to minimize stress, misery, and loss of produc- tivity. Part 2," Managing Garden-Variety Employees," helps you understand the minor forms of difficult behavior that employees use. We'll give you some techniques you can use to manage these situa- tions--in fact, nip them in the bud. We'll talk about the naysayer, the work-avoider, and a few more common employee quirks.