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Customer Review

33 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Completely wrong approach, 26 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Perfect Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Handling Conflict, Confrontations and Challenging Personalities (Perfect Phrases) (Paperback)
After studying human social interaction for quite some time, I thought it would be handy to look at some actual phrases to add to the equation when dealing with difficult people and get a jist of what it really takes to tackle those really difficult people. I was severely disappointed once I began reading this book. I felt that the book comes off the tracks from the start and never gets back on. I have really focused on dealing with difficult people in the last 2 years, part of the reason was so I could have a better relationship with my father. Where this book goes completely awry to start off with is with the usage of the words "I" and "we." If you want to negotiate with a difficult person it is imperative that you focus on the third person and them specifically. By saying the word "I' continuously you subconsciously send the message that it is all about you and difficult people are less tolerant of other people than most and usually only respond to the focus being exclusively on themselves and the consequence of not cooperating with "the group." Instead of "I need" it would be far better to say "there needs to be" or "the company needs." Difficult people don't care what you need. The other faux pas is the usage of "we." To a difficult person "we" sends the message that you and them are one in the same, which at this point the difficult person is completely against. Unless you have some kind of previously established comradery I would avoid using this word at all costs. The second part of getting a difficult person to cooperate is to make them feel that there might be an implied sense of loss or embarrassment if they don't cooperate. And difficult people usually only respond to hard persuasion which involves dramatic things such as loss or embarrassment. The other thing is to make sure that you tell them how much time they have to cooperate. I highly doubt that 95% of people out there would have the gall to actually verbalize the blunt messages offered in this book directly to the person in question as well. An ideal starter message in my opinion would be "Excuse me, John, can I talk to you about a certain office procedure, I'm not sure if you remember, if you're aware or not, but I'm talking specifically about that one thing you've been looking to try to achieve or avoid. Do you have time now to talk because I'm not sure if the company needs to understand your point of view even if they don't always have time for these things" Then you could follow that up with "John, if you remember, if you were aware or not in the past, when you said 'xyz' to so and so, there may have been a kind of feeling of "hurt," possibly a feeling you may be aware of when you may or may not have done something that didn't turn out how you liked it in the past, that feeling you get when you don't get treated the right way, the point being because to some we weren't sure if you did or didn't care about what was in the best interest of everyone." From there you could say "I have been told there needs to be a change in approach towards cooperating by "specific time frame" or the company could lose financially and there's a possibility that you, yourself, could lose (name consequence that implies a sense of embarrassment for them.) and the consequences for you could be long lasting. Inside you might have been thinking, do I really care? or maybe you were thinking, do I really want to deal with the downside of that? I don't know if there's a part of you that has ever dealt with that before, but according to the company, the decision you make in the next few minutes may or may not be the most important decision you will make today for your career. You may want to be thinking about that and what would go down in company history as far as your actions today." These are just my somewhat educated opinions, but are based on a bit of reading and research.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Mar 2012 16:20:58 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Mar 2012 16:22:17 GMT
James Taylor says:
A great discussion, and I think that the most valuable point here is that of avoiding the 'I' word. The 'I' word passes the power over to the other person instantly because it signals that your words are your opinion, leaving your 'opinion' vulnerable and open to evaluation, and, of course, open to rejection.

Posted on 23 Jul 2012 16:05:54 BDT
Book Addict says:
I wonder if you might have been better off getting this title instead:
Make Peace with Anyone: Breakthrough Strategies to Quickly End Any Conflict, Feud or Estrangement

Posted on 30 Jul 2012 21:39:06 BDT
K. Harvey says:
Sorry to read your reason for needing this book. To be honest, having a difficult time with your father may need more than just a book to do some word greasing. There's a whole world of emotions locked up in parent/child relationships and the most important factor is the imbalance of power which a parent has enjoyed from the earliest days of the child's existence. Just words won't help much. Hope you find a book that really answers your needs.

Posted on 30 Jul 2012 22:09:43 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Aug 2012 12:37:38 BDT
James Taylor says:
Difficult people are often manipulative people. They seem to have a stash of put-downs at their disposal which they use to make you feel guilty and/or stupid whenever they choose. The problem with a set of pre-learned responses is that if the response doesn't work you will once again look stupid, and the recited material won't work if you don't have the confidence to support it.

'Book addict's' suggestion is good, although I do feel that in this book Dave Lieberman presupposes that there is good inside all people, and that, deep inside, we all want to be at peace with each other. I'm not sure that I agree with this.

May I suggest looking at In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People and possibly even The Sociopath Next Door. Also, get to the bottom of their manipulative language by studying presuppositions (google angelfire - free info) and fallacies (again there is lots of free material on the net). A great book for fallacies/argument strategy is How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic. I don't know if I dare suggest it here, but I've written a book that includes fallacies, presuppositions, dealing with manipulative people and lots more, all made easy to understand. This book also looks at other common linguistic tricks that, as far as I know, are not discussed anywhere else, yet are very common - one example, we might hear 'eating/spending/relaxing again are we?' used as a put-down to suggest we overeat/overspend/don't work. The book digs deep and reveals the processes behind the words rather than just the words themselves. (It's called Get it, understand it, get ahead).

Assuming you've already bought the book under review, which I think is actually very helpful in that it offers a number of strategies, do look at the linguistic aspect of manipulative behaviour - this will put you on a level playing field and might even enable you to bring out a more positive side of your father. Possibly when his power is taken away you will reveal a very different person.

I sincerely hope that at least some parts of this post are helpful.


I'll edit in - since I didn't re-read your review after my initial post. Your review shows great insight, and it sounds as if you have already found a number of strategies that work for you. Your approach is different to mine, and, bearing in mind the number of people who will be having similar experiences to yours, you could probably write a book yourself!

Posted on 25 Sep 2012 13:14:08 BDT
Zara A says:
I agree with you, M. Morris. There are different degrees of difficult people, and this book is aimed at those who are dealing with someone reasonable who will listen. Unfortunately, if you are needing a book like this (and I am), the biggest problem is that the problem person won't listen, and doesn't care about you or your opinion. The only thing they do care about is will you do what they want? So it's all about driving a hard bargain with them, not being afraid to say no, and walking away when you can. I can recommend "Dealing with People You Can't Stand" for learning to handle those people you can't walk away from.
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