Tactics for tackling difficult people in life and work
4.4 (5,133 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
17,059 students enrolled

Tactics for tackling difficult people in life and work

Recognise and use four key skills of self-empowerment when faced with difficult people
4.4 (5,133 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
17,055 students enrolled
Last updated 7/2018
English [Auto], French [Auto], 5 more
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Current price: $30.99 Original price: $44.99 Discount: 31% off
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This course includes
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 7 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Identify the most common kinds of ‘difficult’ behaviour
  • Recognise and use the four key skills of self-empowerment when faced with challenging behaviour
  • Use their listening and other skills to create an effective communications 'stance'
  • Pre-empt difficult situations and stop them from escalating
  • Be able to 'forward plan' and employ strategies to counter difficult behaviour
  • Avoid the common pitfalls and stay out of self-defeating cycles of response
  • Understand how to separate the 'problem' from the 'person'.
  • Understand how to separate thoughts from feelings to help gain mastery
  • Use key strategies like ASSUME and SALVAGE to take control of difficult interactions
  • Plan for more successful outcomes with relationships at work, home and socially.
  • No special materials or prior knowledge, everything is provided.

Anyone involved with others – at work or at home – who wants to tackle difficult behaviour more effectively will enjoy this course. It'll help you successfully settle those difficult interactions that just won’t resolve themselves.

With video demonstrations to support the lectures you'll quickly learn to handle apparently impossible situations where people just won’t co-operate: bosses, co-workers, customers, patients or members of the public who act in unpleasant, unpredictable ways.

And it isn’t limited to the workplace; if you ever find yourself struggling in your personal relationships there's help here too.

This course tells you how to identify seven common difficult characters, recognise clues to the patterns in their behaviour, and most importantly, how to understand how to prepare yourself, so that you become more effective more often in your relationships.

This 90-minute course includes 12 video lectures. You'll also be provided with concise and clearly written downloads to help you practice some recommended exercises and enhance your skills. And there's a reading list if you want to take your study further.

How to complete the course
The course contains 12 lectures; approximately 50 minutes of video, presented in bite-sized lectures. Reading time for the associated material is approximately 40 minutes. We recommend watching these several times to help you effortlessly absorb the information. We also recommend reflection breaks between each lecture; avoid 'cramming' and find a pace that suits you.

This course will help you if:

  • You have to deal with challenging behaviour in the course of your work, home life or socially
  • You work with one or more colleague whose behaviour you find unacceptable, obstructive or overly demanding
  • You find it difficult to get your point across in certain situations
  • You are regularly in contact with someone who insults for, puts you down, or manipulates you
  • You have a partner or ex-partner who persistently uses unfair behaviour to get their own way
  • You want to more confident in dealing with situations where someone else constantly tries to get the upper hand.


Barry Winbolt MSc is a relationship consultant, mediator and writer. He has over 25 years experience providing training and advice in working relationships, communication skills and personal development.

His highly engaging workshops are designed to be relevant to attendees and to deliver practical skills and techniques that can be applied immediately.

The course looks at the most common kinds of difficult behaviour, and provides you with an essential toolkit for identifying and managing them effectively.

Who this course is for:
  • This course on handling difficult behaviour is suitable for all levels of ability. It is designed to help you face challenging situations wherever they happen, at work, in the home, or socially. It will equip you to handle them with flair and confidence. The course will also help you gain insight into your own reactions, and the self-defeating patterns that people can fall into when confronted by difficult behaviour.
  • Reception and other front-line staff
  • Members of the Helping Professions who have to deal with challenging behaviour
  • Educators who have to tackle challenging behaviour
  • People who have to deal with difficult colleagues
  • Anyone who wants to be able to take control in conversations marked by disagreement or non-compliance.
Course content
Expand all 11 lectures 47:49
+ Introduction to Difficult People
3 lectures 13:11

Most of us have dozens of successful interactions each day, but there are those that just keep coming back to bite us. Colleagues, partners and family members, people we have to deal with at work, even socially...  In any situation where somebody’s behaviour prevents you from getting the outcomes you want. This lesson introduces the types of situation where difficult behaviour occurs, and the strategies that you’ll need to work round them.

Preview 02:39

There are five key factors that you need to take into account when tackling difficult behaviour. Understand these and you'll be in a stronger position to manage or work round the difficult person. This lesson explains what they are, and why it is vital to tackle the unwanted behaviour, than to attack the difficult person's character.

What makes people difficult?

There are an infinite number of ways that people can be difficult. Some are strident and noisy, others more passive, withdrawn, moody or brooding. In this lesson we outline seven types of 'character' – clusters of behaviour that can be difficult to deal with. With the help of role-plays you'll learn to identify these 'characters', and spot the patterns of behaviour that need to be interrupted.

It also explains why it is vital to avoid the temptation of labelling people; the descriptions used here are for learning purposes only.

Preview 07:54
+ Preparing yourself
4 lectures 16:40

There are four essential skills that you'll need to brush up on if you want to communicate effectively and get your point across in the face of difficult behaviour. The good news is that these are skills you already have, you probably just haven't thought about them this way before. Once you know what they are, you can practice them; they'll allow you to be more confident and have more control in those difficult interactions.

Four things to know about ourselves

There are three questions to ask yourself before setting out to tackle difficult behaviour. Is the nasty behaviour a one-off, or is it more persistent and repetitive? Is it causing harm or damage, or it is just a little inconvenient? In short, how much energy and effort will you need to tackle the behaviour, and are you ready for it?

This lesson uses an approached called 'The Three Cs' to help you think through some of the pitfalls, and prepare yourself before you try a new strategy with the difficult person.

The three 'C's

In this lesson you will learn the five steps to getting the upper hand with challenging behaviour. It explains how to avoid triggering an unpleasant reaction in the other person, and the five 'golden rules' that will put you in control. Understanding what you want and expect, and communicating it to the other person clearly is a great start, but you'll also need to protect their dignity, to avoid getting side tracked.

The lesson also explains that, above all, you should abandon any notions of 'winning'.

Preview 04:13

One of the hardest parts of dealing with difficult behaviour is managing your emotions. When you are on the receiving end of behaviour you don’t like, it doesn’t take long for negative feelings to cloud your judgement and influence how you communicate.
This lesson looks at the skill-set you’ll need to separate thoughts and feelings, so you’ll be able to handle your emotions more effectively.

Controlling your emotions
+ Techniques and Tactics
4 lectures 17:58

We've all been there, locked into a conversation that goes on and on without ever resolving anything! This lesson explains how you need to approach the problem between you and the difficult person, without getting drawn into irrelevant and unproductive detours. You will also learn that a simple change of focus can dramatically reduce the risk that a conversation becomes a conflict.

In simple language, you'll learn a powerful tactic for breaking the deadlock and developing forward momentum in tricky conversations.

Think 'how' not 'what'

How often to we embark on a conversation without thinking it through first. The chances are, if you do think it through you simply rehearse your fears by imagining everything that could go wrong. Or you come up with a plan which, despite your best intentions, you are unable to stick to once the talking starts.

To help you prepare, this lesson spells out six vital elements of the ASSUME Strategy. Taken together, these simple tactics will allow you ASSUME control, by taking a position where you are able to run the conversation.

The ASSUME strategy

When conversation has broken down to a point where it has become openly hostile, the SALVAGE Strategy provides a starting point to re-open communications.

The SALVAGE strategy

In this concluding lesson we summarise and give pointers to consolidate the learning. At the heart of tackling Difficult behaviour lies good communication. But underlying that, in order to tackle the unwanted behaviour and get your message across, you must do it with sincerity and integrity.

Conclusion - What do good communicators do?

Test what you've learned from from this course.

Assessment quiz
7 questions