In business, you get to interact with a lot of unique personality types. Some people are characterized by ambition while others are motivated by a higher calling to make a difference in the world. I’ve found that more often than not if you can identify what drives an individual on a personal level, you can find a way to work with them to achieve your goals. However, we’ve all been in situations where this doesn’t hold true. Sometimes, people’s behavior doesn’t seem to be motivated by identifiable, logical thought. Sometimes, people are simply irrational.
Learning to deal with irrational people is a particularly important skill for entrepreneurs and leaders as challenging behavior has a tendency to manifest itself along the entrepreneurial journey. While managing such behavior isn’t easy, it can be done and when it comes to dealing with difficult personalities and irrational behavior, three simple lessons stand out.
First and foremost, it’s important to stop and recognize that everyone, including yourself, can act irrational and crazy at times. The reality is that there are many factors that influence our behavior in tense situations, and more often than not people on the other side of the table are only privy to the most obvious. Personal issues, private stresses, and unseen anxieties influence our behavior, for better or worse. The most important step to successfully manage someone acting irrationally is to start with empathy.
An empathetic response can instantly diffuse a rapidly escalating situation. Begin by recognizing the other person’s feelings as valid, without condoning or commenting on them. The last thing that an irrational person wants to hear is that their beliefs or emotions are wrong. They may be misguided and factually incorrect, but they’re still very real to the person experiencing them. Interactions take a turn for the worse when you push back on an irrational person, causing them to double down on their position and fight back.
Source – forbes.com