by Brendan M. Lynch | September 01, 2006

Book cover: Dealing with difficult peopleWho hasn’t come face-to-face with a churlish client, a belligerent boss or an acrimonious attendee? Roberta Cava, author of Dealing with Difficult People (, says not to bother negotiating with anyone who has completely “lost it.” For everyone else, she offers the following tips for cooling them down.

Take a time-out. This gives both parties some valuable time to think things over, begin to calm down and rationally assess the situation.

Pay attention to your body. Break the inner tension: Take a series of deep, calming breaths if the complainant has triggered the “fight-or-flight” instinct in you.

Repeat after him. Paraphrase what the other person says. This lets the person know you’re listening.

Be willing to negotiate. “Learning to deal with difficult people involves learning how to manage your side of a two-way transaction,” notes Cava. If you won’t budge, the other person probably won’t, either.