Mark Lee suggests some of the methods accountants can use when dealing with difficult clients, colleagues, partners and tax officers.
Five key tips for handling difficult people
1. Separate the person from the problem
2. Affirm rather than accuse
3. Promise yourself a reward
4. Keep your cool
5. Keep notes
Probably one of the worst aspects of being in practice - or indeed of any working environment - is having to deal with difficult people. Sole practitioners who operate without staff and who are very choosy about their clients may only encounter difficult people in HMRC. At the other extreme, a manager in a larger firm might encounter difficult colleagues, junior staff, partners and clients, as well as fellow professionals in other firms and employees at all levels in HMRC.
Most of us have to deal with difficult people at work. How difficult a person is to deal with depends on our self-esteem, self-confidence and our professional courage. Dealing with difficult people is easier when the person is just generally obnoxious or when the behaviour affects more than one person. The task becomes much tougher when they are attacking you personally or undermining your professional contribution.