• Author Fenno Moes

Difficult people. How can I become one?

How difficult am I actually? That's a question I ask myself on a regular basis.

A few weeks ago I gave a training course to bank employees in the middle of the country. An off-site location had been selected, a beautiful hotel hidden among the trees. When I entered the training room I saw that the tables had been placed in a U shape. This isn't a problem in and of itself, except for I had indicated when filling out the "request form" prior to the training that I wanted a room without tables. I thought: "Maybe I can move the tables with the participants when they get here; that's three minutes of work, tops."

But I quickly reassessed the situation. The agreement was "empty, without tables" and not in a U shape. So I went to the hotel reception and said that the room was not as I had requested it. An employee who was responsible for the training rooms came up to me immediately and said: "Yes, that's true. I remember, you wanted a room without tables. Sorry about that, let me take care of that now." I told him that it wasn't a big deal and that I'd help him. (Why?)

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I often catch myself not immediately standing firm in these types of situations. First I see if I can resolve the problem myself. And honestly, this is fueled by my fear of being DIFFICULT.

Because difficult means "not nice, annoying." I also see this in others. Participants who keep apologizing for asking questions. For example: "I don't want to be difficult, but my food has to be gluten-free due to my allergy. The training session includes lunch. Will there be gluten-free options? But if that's not possible or if it's too much of a bother, I can eat some fruit."

How often do you hear people start a sentence with "Sorry, I don't mean to be difficult, but..."? But what would happen if you actually were difficult? What's so bad about difficult people? And what do I consider "difficult people"? People who stand their ground, who demand things? People who say and do things that I'd like to say and do to some extent? People who hardly worry about if they come across as nice or annoying?

Once again it becomes clear to me that people who I find difficult exhibit behavior that perhaps I should exhibit more often myself. By looking at it this way, "they" become a little less difficult.

Author: Fenno Moes


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