5 Things Emotionally Smart Leaders Do to Disarm Difficult People

Have you ever worked with a difficult person who either unconsciously (or consciously) creates havoc wherever he/she shows up?
And if you’re a leader, you may have a team member right now that is creating problems for your entire team.
Even if you don’t currently have this situation, it’s highly likely that you will have people you’d describe as challenging on your team at some point in your career.
It’s important to know what to do when facing this kind of dilemma becausedifficult people can be a source of tremendous stress that impacts your health, productivity, mood and the morale of your team.
Chronic stress is a powerful threat to your success because when it gets out of control, the quality of your life diminishes. You may experience symptoms like high blood pressure, insomnia, rapid heart palpitations, etc. Your most treasured relationships may be damaged if you’re constantly on edge.
In addition, your team is watching you to learn learn how to handle people who create chaos.
Being able to manage difficult people begins with learning how to take care of yourself. Doing this will help you manage your emotions when trying to respond in ways that have a positive influence on such individuals.
Emotionally smart leaders do a better job of managing their emotions and stress in general. According to TalentSmart’s research with more than a million people, they found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.
Emotionally smart leaders have a high level of emotional intelligence, also referred to as EQ. Leaders with high EQ know how to remain in control of their emotions when handling challenging employees.
Based on my 25+ years of experience helping leaders develop their EQ, I’ve observed strategies that emotionally smart leaders use to disarm difficult people. I wanted to share the following top 5 that may be helpful to you when dealing with a difficult people:
1. Emotionally Smart Leaders Prioritize Self-Care & Mindset Rituals  
In order to stay centered, calm and able to handle toxic people, emotionally smart leaders prioritize taking great care of themselves. They get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and build in downtime on a regular basis. In addition, they devote time every day to reducing stress through meditation, a workout or yoga to keep stress from building up. They know that reducing stress increases their ability to be in control of their emotions when trying to manage tough situations.
Mindset rituals like practicing gratitude for all that is right fortifies their mental fitness. They are intentional about maintaining a strong, positive mindset so they can remain calm during conflicts with others.
2. Emotionally Smart Leaders Own Their Emotional Home
We don’t control anyone in life. We only control ourselves and how we respond to others. Emotionally smart leaders do not let others steal their state of being – their energy, mood or what I like to call their emotional home.
They also know how to establish healthy boundaries and not let others’ behaviors impact their self-worth.The self-care and mindset work that they do every day strengthens their resolve to respond to difficult people and situations the way they WANT to, no matter what. This also helps them have more patience, compassion and empathy for others.
3. Emotionally Smart Leaders Redirect Their Attention to Problem-Solving 
Instead of getting caught up in drama that a toxic people can generate, emotionally smart leaders know that redirecting the focus of whatever the issues are back to them can be an effective strategy. They redirect by asking them how they would like to help solve a particular problem.
Giving disgruntled people opportunities to help resolve issues can sometimes expand their perspective and minimize current and future turmoil.
4. Emotionally Smart Leaders Hold People Accountable
Emotionally smart leaders know how important it is to have a consistency in how people are held accountable, especially if their behavior is negatively impacting others.
It is critically important that leaders do this because their team members are watching closely how they handle such situations.
If negative, disruptive behavior is perceived as somehow acceptable, it will demotivate other team members and create more problems.
People will leave an organization if they think individuals who cause problems are not held accountable. They question why they should try being an exemplary employee if troublemakers always get away with bad behavior.
5. Emotionally Smart Leaders Master Emotional Triggers
One of the most important EQ competencies is emotional self-control. Difficult people can do or say things that trigger strong negative emotional reactions from the calmest, most emotionally smart leaders!
Emotionally smart leaders are aware of their own triggers. When they experience an automatic type of negative response to someone, they know it’s best to pause for a moment, take a few deep breaths and think about how they want to respond.
The bottom line is that having high emotional intelligence is a huge advantage when it comes to managing people who don’t always bring positive intent or energy to the office.
Every leader has the potential to develop their EQ in ways that help them better manage their emotions and interactions with difficult people.
I specialize in helping high achievers become extraordinary leaders with high EQ, while being fully present and able to enjoy their lives. Part of that transformational process includes developing a higher level of emotional self-awareness, self-control, social awareness and capacity to manage relationships.
If you’d like to know more about how I help leaders achieve higher levels of success, connect with me by clicking here. Together, we can figure out if I can help you in your leadership journey.
Jennell Evans, MA, CMMI
Leadership | Emotional Intelligence | Mindfulness
Advisor & Speaker