This is an unusual book. Not in its subject matter – the importance of the topic cannot be stressed enough – but in the way it emphasises that the time, energy and sheer human potential we waste through bad communication is stunning. And all this at a level before we get to the more serious topics of bullying and anger management.
Barry Winbolt has tried a new approach in his research. He looks at how and why things work for those among us who always seem to bring out the best in situations. There are several points where his determination to be positive could slip into a bland Californian-guru style, but, fortunately, it avoids the pitfall. And there are many areas that have been examined before, but Winbolt manages to imbue them with a new strength, energy and, above all, relevance.
Our (nursing) profession contains many committed professionals who no longer know how to feel safe enough to express their fears and feelings and who, all too often, end up leaving altogether. I have recommended this book to a number of my friends and colleagues. Now I am recommending it to you.
Reviewer: Greta McGough RMN, RGN, RM, RMT, MEd
Counselling in Primary Care Trust
The title intrigued me, the introduction convinced me. It’s no fun putting up with difficult people in our social lives and it can be a nightmare when one is forced to work under a manager or superior known to be ‘difficult’ to get on with. These people rarely change their behaviour and can vary between making excuses for not doing their fair share of work to outright bullying intimidatory behaviour. For those of us not on the receiving end such behaviour can seem comical but when you are the intended victim of such people it’s no laughing matter.
The author a psychotherapist with many years of experience running seminars and training programmes sought out people’s stories of being affected by others ‘difficult behaviour’. Some seemed able to cope but others appeared to be suffering, – angry, disempowered or worn down by the experience of having to be with such people.
The author also sought out individuals who appeared to cope with the difficult behaviours of others and yet appeared quite unaffected. He tried to identify what it was that enabled them to survive.
This book tells their stories and teases out the techniques that work best in given situations. The book could be seen as a tool kit of strategies for dealing with almost any difficult individual (and situation). However, the author stresses that there is no magic simple technique. I found the book informative, the strategies relatively easy to apply as long as I kept my options open – rather like a brief therapist – if one technique isn’t working don’t persist with it but try another.
Counsellors working with clients who are forced to live and work with difficult people will find much to help them in the book to work with these clients. The range of interpersonal skills required of clients are not demanding. Self awareness and confidence and practice seem to be the keys to clients success in coping and counsellors can facilitate these.
The seven key skills to cope with difficult people (and situations) identified by the author are as follows;
- Setting boundaries and limits
- Staying cool and remaining objective
- Dealing with the emotion
- Speaking clearly
- Listening to understand
- Knowing where to end
These form the framework of the ‘doing’ part of the book but excellent chapters on ‘Who are these difficult people?’, ‘the social context’ and ‘why are people difficult’ provide the intellectual underpinning of this intriguing and helpful book. All of us struggling in some times dysfunctional teams in healthcare will find many helpful suggestions on how to survive in such environments.
Reviewer: Dr Graham Curtis Jenkins, Director, CPC.
We all know them, they are the people you find it easier to avoid rather than engage with.
Looking on the web there are lots of guides to read. However we did come across a book that we found very interesting, accessible and easy to help cope with that difficult moment, or even moments. Barry Winbolt has worked in organisations studying people’s behaviour for more than 20 years. He says there is really no such thing as a difficult person, only people who use difficult behaviour. After all, we can all be difficult sometimes, can’t we? For the sake of simplicity, however, he has adopted the convention of referring to ‘difficult people’…
“As anyone who has had to put up with difficult behaviour knows, it is not funny, and often people won’t change …”
During the many years of running seminars and training programmes he came across people’s stories of being affected by others ‘difficult behaviour’. Some seemed able to cope while others appeared to be suffering – angry, disempowered or worn down by the experience of having to be with such people. Others appeared to cope with the difficult behaviours of others and remained unaffected. His book tells their stories and identifies the techniques that work best in given situations.
Barry identifies seven key skills to cope with difficult people (and situations) as: Preparation Setting boundaries and limits Staying cool and remaining objective Dealing with the emotion Speaking clearly Listening to understand Knowing where to end.
The form the framework of the ‘doing’ part of the book but there are excellent chapters on ‘Who are these difficult people?’, ‘the social context’ and ‘why are people difficult’
The author stresses that there is no magic technique, but offers several strategies that can be applied in most situations. I certainly wish I had had a copy during a very negative period of my working life, working with a dysfunctional manager. I left the job. It was the only way out I could see at the time.