4 Secrets to Communicating with Difficult People

Real Estate Agent 0995684332

Whether you are dealing with a grumpy teenager, putting up with a boss that makes your life miserable, or engaging with a difficult person in another context, knowing some of the techniques employed by successful negotiators can help you steer your encounters in the desired direction. That would be a better result than feeling out of control, wouldn’t it?


When we lose control, we go into crisis mode. We swing between anger and hopelessness. We get frustrated and we fall hostage to our negative and disempowering emotions. That’s not a state of mind you want to be in. There is little to gain when a situation controls you, rather than you being in control. You are better off if you have a method that helps you to author your life, even when it gets tough.


Let’s examine 4 secrets employed by successful negotiators to reach agreement with difficult people:



1. Know What You Want.

Clarity of purpose is key for any successful negotiation. Often, we experience emotions that put us down because our mind is clouded and we are unable to understand what’s going. We wonder what our next step should be. Our mind is fogged. We lack clarity. By the time a negotiator sits down at the table, he or she has already identified specific and desired results the negotiation has to produce. So, ask yourself when confronted with a tough situation: What is it that you really want to achieve? What are your goals?

Having a clear, concrete and measurable answer to this question (which might include clarity about what you are not ready to accept and tolerate) will assist you greatly in dealing with a difficult person or situation.


2. Know The Other Side.

By this I don’t mean only to know what the goals of the other party are or what it is up to. Nor do I mean only to collect information that will help you to bond with the other person in a more sincere and meaningful way. Of course, the more information you have, the better. But what I mean by “knowing the other side” is the importance of identifying what basic human needs the other party is trying to satisfy—even through a behavior that might even be harmful and destructive. As Tony Robbins likes to emphasize, there is always a positive intention behind someone’s behavior—that is, there is always the intention of satisfying a need.

Recognizing that we are moved by positive intentions and learning how to identify the need someone satisfies with a negative behavior had a great impact on the quality of my work.

In fact, whenever I am able to identify if an individual, by means of a particular behavior, is looking for recognition, or a deeper connection, or is simply scared and searching for security, I am in a better position to connect with the basic needs of that person, and take care of them. In fact, once the need is identified, what needs to change is the strategy to achieve it. Knowing this, together with the other person, I can explore alternatives.

So, what’s the positive intention behind the behavior of your grumpy teenage child, or your impossible boss? Is it recognition? Security? A deeper connection? How can you help the other to meet his or her need in a more constructive way? What alternatives exist?


3. Prepare Options for Mutual Gain.

If you know the other person and you have identified his or her needs and interests, then you can come up with a menu of options that benefits both you and the other. In other words, ask yourself: What arrangements might take care of your own needs and those of the other?

If you focus exclusively on your own needs and interests, you make a poor negotiator, and the conflict you are facing is destined to escalate and to become intractable. Instead, once you have clarity about your preferred outcome and have identified the key need of the other, you can become creative and come up with solutions that are mutually beneficial.

Rather than seeing in the other an opponent you have to defeat, see in him or her a partner with whom to collaborate.

In fact, even if there is tension and disagreement, when we belong to a family, an organization, or a community, we are entangled in the same web of relations. Becoming aware of this web helps you to perceive the other person not as separated from you, but as part of your life and reality.


4. Listen.

There is no skill more powerful and transformative in a negotiation than listening. Listening is opening the space that allows for an encounter with the other. Listening engenders the conditions that allow the other person to express his or her own needs and interests.

Moreover, listening doesn’t only provide an opportunity for the other to express himself or herself; it also offers a chance to gain insights into the experience and perception of the other.

You will not get to know the other party unless you listen authentically and deeply. This level of listening requires the capacity to put yourself in parentheses, at least momentarily, to make space for the other.


In listening (and not telling or talking down) rests the first powerful step towards change and transformation.



Finding ways to implement these four secrets of successful negotiators will increase the effectiveness of your communication, deepen your relationships, elicit unimagined solutions, and turn problems into opportunities—and the quality of your life will experience an upgrade.


Posted by

Christie Tufts/ Realtor/ CID
Keller Williams Realty Services
1522 W Causeway Approach
Mandeville, LA 70471
985.231.7394 Direct
985.727.7000 Office 
Each Office is Independently Owned and Operated
Licensed in Louisiana

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This transmission is privileged, confidential, and intended only for the use of the individual named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify Christie Tufts immediately to arrange for the return of the original.

Comments (21)

Daniel Seider
BTRE Big Trees Real Estate - Arnold, CA

Listening is to me the best tip. It can lead you to what is mutual gain for both parties or lead to a conclusion that no effort can change one parties mind to benefit of both parties. I try only to work with parties that have at least a little flexibility

Apr 07, 2015 05:43 AM
Captain Wayne - Rowlett Real Estate School
Rowlett Real Estate School - Panama City, FL
Rowlett Real Estate School / Owner and Instructor

HI Christie Tufts, Welcome to the Rain train! I'm glad you made the brave first steps into the blogging world with us! It's a great place to be and I hope to see many more posts from you in the future!

Apr 07, 2015 06:07 AM
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

There's an oft repeated lesson: "Why did God give us two ears and one mouth? So that we listen twice as often or as much as we speak."

Apr 07, 2015 06:12 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Great rules in the end for communicating with just about anyone. Final rule on difficult people, just get away from them!

Apr 07, 2015 06:18 AM
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Christie - Great advice on how to communicate with difficult people. Thanks for sharing.

Apr 07, 2015 09:36 AM
Randy Mitchelson,APR
Marketing Advisor & Squeeze Mortgage - Bonita Springs, FL
First Impressions are made at First Click

Option 5 is ignore!

Apr 07, 2015 12:05 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello and welcome to the rain.  All great points, thanks for sharing.

Apr 07, 2015 01:58 PM
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com

Good morning Christie. Congratulations on your first blog post here in Active Rain. You chose a great topic that is applicable to every profession out there. Keep it up!

Apr 08, 2015 01:37 AM
Larry O'Sullivan
Sandy, UT

Christie - great blog with lots of good reminders. Your points cover what you want with an allowance for conversion as well as a position for compromise. Sun Tsu (Art of War) would have been proud of you.

Apr 08, 2015 11:00 AM
Kristen Correa, Broker
Kristen Correa Real Estate & Reedy Creek Realty Services - Keller, TX
I love coffee & real estate. I am out of coffee!

Good job, new woman! As it relates specifically to negotiating real estate deals, I would only add know your market well. Knowing not only what you or your client wants, knowing the person on your side or the other side who is being difficult, the goal, etc., as you said, but I think knowing your own market really well allows you to speak confidently your side of the thing, facts vs. emotion, market data vs. opinion. Helps!!

Apr 08, 2015 12:34 PM
Christie Tufts
Mandeville, LA

Thanks everyone! Thought it was very useful and informative.... And number 5 should be ignore or just don't deal with difficult people at all! LOL.... Sometimes if they are too difficult, you just really have to walk away! Thanks for all the positive comments!

Apr 09, 2015 01:03 AM
Michele Connors
The Overton Group, LLC Pitt & Carteret County - Greenville, NC
Your Eastern North Carolina Realtor

great info ! Welcome to Active Rain I am looking forward to reading more of your blog posts !! 

Apr 09, 2015 06:15 AM
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good evening Christie. Listen seems to be the key factor. That is the reason we have one mouth and two ears.

Apr 09, 2015 10:00 AM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Christie - Knowing the other side is so important, and it frequently feeds from listening.

Apr 09, 2015 03:35 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Christie - Congratulations on your first post in the Rain, and please know that the ambassadors/orange badges are here to help if you have questions.

Apr 09, 2015 03:38 PM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Christie, that's a great list of tools to use when communicating. I find that if 4 is engaged, the other three fall into place. Welcome to Active Rain. You'll learn a lot here, and of course you can share your experiences and expertise. 

Apr 12, 2015 12:41 AM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

HI Christie, Glad to see you here on ActiveRain. It is a tremendous resource of information and way to network with agents and other professionally in the industry. Be expecting a phone call from me to welcome you.

Apr 13, 2015 04:09 AM
Trumps Elite
Keller Williams Realty Acadiana - Lafayette, LA
Realtors/Career Consultant

Hello and welcome to AR. Great article and I hope to read more from you. When you have time visit our blog as well. 

Apr 20, 2015 04:12 AM
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

Welcome to AR. Great tips on negotiating. Difficult people can waste time and energy.

Apr 21, 2015 02:49 AM
Margaret Kapranos
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Novato, CA
San Francisco Bay Area REALTOR. 415-608-5070

How we present ourselves in the first moment of meeting someone could affect our communication with that person who perceives us through their initial reaction to us.  I just heard this the other day.  People who have the hardest time overcoming those initial...negative...perceptions are those who have stoic, poker faces.  Moral...show a little more emotion when first meeting your folks.

Apr 30, 2015 03:27 PM