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How do you deal with challenging people?

Last week I was asked by a coaching client to help her deal with a direct report who was challenging to her. The direct report kept sticking her nose into things that were none of her business. This nosiness was not only distracting and annoying, but it took focus off the work that needed to get done. To make matter worse, when my client didn’t give her direct report the answers she wanted, she got offended and defensive.

So, what does a person do when they find themselves in this spot? There are all kinds of ways to handle it, but I think there are four specific things that must be done when a person is allegedly trying to help but is really nosy and not helpful.

Here are four things you can do; in this order:

1. Assume – that their heart is in the right place. Further assume that their intentions are good.
2. Acknowledge – their concern, interest, etc. (“I get that this is troubling you and it would be better if it was going smoother.”)
3. Appreciate – the passion and intensity they bring to the concern.
4. Ask – great questions. (“What are the things you have control over right now that would make this situation more productive for you?”)

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Years ago I was approached by an organization that wanted to do things differently. They asked me if I believed there was a way to make the development of leaders more predictable.

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