Dealing with difficult people – be mindful

Dealing with difficult people – be mindful

I spoke recently with my old school pal Willie Horton telling him about our new company Oak Conflict Dynamics and the work we are doing in training managers to cope better with conflict. Willie is what I would call a guru in mindfulness and works internationally with business leaders in helping them to achieve their true potential through the use of purposeful mindfulness.

He shared his thoughts with me on conflict in the workplace.

“A clear and purposefully focused mind knows just what to do and say – and just how to do and say it – to ensure that you’re not distracted, drained or knocked off course by the inevitable inappropriate behaviour of people around you.

Aren’t we prone to react to what’s going on and doesn’t reaction generally make matters worse? The answer is a resounding “Yes” to both those questions. Not only that, we are “wired” to react.

What I’m talking about, however, is conscious, deliberate and mindful action… and there’s a world of difference. When we mindfully act, we do and say just what is necessary. Sometimes we find ourselves saying the unthinkable… things we would never consider saying from the safety of our comfort zone. We become brave and courageous – but, remember, bravery and courage are just words used by people to describe something they would never do but which the mindful person does (and this is the important point) without thinking about it.

What if someone takes offense? That is their problem! Perhaps you’ve said what should have been said many weeks, months or even years ago. And, if you’ve said it mindfully – and remained mindful – you won’t get sucked into their little drama.

What if you lose a friend as a result of calling a spade a spade? Well, if that is the case, how true a friend was the person?

Perhaps you’re better to sleep on things or let the matter lie. Perhaps the other will see the error of their ways. These perhapses are what gives people the inch that inevitably turns into a mile.

Nip it in the bud – the best way to deal with conflict is long before it gets that far. Yes, sometimes it takes bravery and courage but a mindful mind doesn’t know the difference between that and the blindingly obvious thing to do.”


Thanks a million for those wise words Willie. You can look Willie up on – well worth a visit.

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