Secrets of Leadership Part 2: Confronting Difficult People

We all know them. Difficult people. 

Perhaps we are the difficult one.

People are difficult for all kinds of reasons. 

Leaders have a responsibility to lead difficult people. Difficult as they may be, the difficult person is valuable, talented and gifted. Leaders must address the difficult person with care just as much as their more compliant counterparts.

As leaders we have the obligation to manage the difficult people who bring difficult situations into the workplace, home or ministry, wherever we are leading people. 

There are ways of confronting difficult people and still preserving their freedom and dignity, no matter how much drama they may be causing. Confronting them, as trying as it may be to confront a difficult person, is very important to preserving focus and fruitfulness in the atmosphere. 

It is not helpful to avoid, cater to, or allow others to be subjected to the whims of the difficult person. Confrontation is necessary. There are keys to confronting the difficult person in a healthy way.

Here are some tips: 


Wait too long and let things build up before you confront.

Confront them in front of others. Find a safe space. 

Allow them to distract you from the bottom line issues. 

Lose control of yourself, such as losing your temper. 

Play dirty to get your point across, keep it clean.

Permit them to cross your personal boundaries. 

Participate when difficult people become abusive.Sacrifice your convictions in the face of fear.

Take things personally. 


Choose your battles wisely.

Be honest, direct and precise with your concerns. 

Stick with the "I feel" statements. Stay away from accusatory language such as "you always".

Be patient and keep to the point. 

Affirm their worth and listen carefully. 

Consider negotiation without participating in abuse or manipulation. 

Maintain the boundaries you set. 

Ask more questions than you give answers, you may find clues to resolving underlying issues. 

Remember that you are the leader. Behave accordingly. 

Please consider that often people are difficult for good reasons. Here are a few: 

Some personalities are more sensitive.

People may be under unique pressures in their life that you are unaware of, such as illness.

Grief and loss contribute to personal pain. Personal pain causes people to act out. 

Hurting people often hurt people. 

Keep in mind that people do come and go in our lives and there are times when letting someone go in order to preserve relationship is necessary. Perhaps they are not someone who is ready for your kind of leadership. Maybe there is a miss-match and they are not compatible with your team as a whole. Carefully consider all the factors in order to come to a resolution. 

Whatever the reason you must confront someone difficult, remember these three things: 

Keep your integrity intact.

Love and honor people in the condition they are in.

Lead with kindness and respect.

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