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How to Handle Difficult People With Soft Skills

look at the commonalities amongst the people, not the differences to resolve conflicts



Image Credit: Unsplash

Handling difficult people is a challenging task in the workplace. It is easier said than done indeed! However, it is possible to handle them when you understand basic human psychology and endeavor to improve their behavior through soft skills. 

In this regard, we will discuss assertiveness, handling difficult people, and exploring tools to handle them with the help of soft skills. 

Assertiveness is a widely discussed topic in the workplace. People often confuse aggressiveness with assertiveness. Assertiveness is the art of saying ‘No’ without compromising one’s rights and without hurting others. 

It is the art of saying ‘No’ politely but firmly. Assertiveness indicates ‘I am ok and you are ok’. In contrast, aggressiveness represents ‘I am ok but you are not ok’ and submissiveness describes ‘I am not ok but you are ok’. 

Of all three situations, assertiveness helps, in the long run, to enable people to lead conflict-free and stress-free life. In a nutshell, assertiveness is a win-win situation where all stakeholders are in a comfortable position to accomplish goals and objectives.  

Research shows that 80 percent of workplace challenges arise due to improper communication. Assertiveness is an integral part of effective communication. When people communicate assertively the message can be carried forward properly, positively, and peacefully. 

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie

For these reasons, companies conduct training sessions on assertiveness to enable employees to work peacefully and productively. 

Leaders including Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, and Winston Churchill led assertively. They succeeded as leaders because they did not compromise their principles. 

Martin Luther King Jr fought for the rights of Blacks in America, Mahatma Gandhi fought for India’s freedom through non-violence and Winston Churchill was instrumental in winning the Second World War through assertive communication. Therefore, assertiveness is one of the pillars of effective leadership.

Assertiveness for resolving conflicts 

People adopt different means to resolve conflicts. Some people avoid or withdraw from conflict due to a lack of confidence. Some people do not want to hurt others by striking people resulting in suffering silently. 

Some people believe in striking back with aggression. It is a tit-for-tat scenario. And some people think coolly, and logically, and persuade others to understand the situation from multiple perspectives. They are assertive people. 

As people are different in nature, their approaches toward conflict are also different. In a nutshell, in a submissive style, people avoid conflicts and suffer silently. In an aggressive style, people inflict pain on others by being indifferent to others. 

In an assertive style, people empathize with others and strike a balance by respecting others as well as by protecting themselves. 

When people are suppressed for a long time, they explode like a volcano after some time. It is basically because they failed to assert their ideas, views, and rights for a long time. Such behavior adversely affects health and leads to depression. 

On the contrary, when people constantly dominate and dictate to others unmindful of others’ sentiments, views, and ideas, they will be disliked by others. Such aggressive people resort to conflicts everywhere. 

They are a threat to corporate peace and harmony. These people demonstrate negative body language. Here are some tools and techniques to be assertive.  

  • State your feelings properly, positively, and firmly without hurting others.
  • Empathize with others by becoming a good listener. Attentive listening helps ensure a better understanding of others’ viewpoints leading to assertive communication. 
  • Be objective, specific, and clear in your approach.
  • Be cool and composed. Don’t lose your temper. Appreciate the fact that it takes years to build the relations but a few seconds to break them. 
  • Demonstrate positive body language to present your viewpoint. 
  • You can go for a sandwich conversation wherein you start positively initially then include your strong points to put across and finally end your conversation with positive points to enable the other person to receive the messages properly.
  • When you dislike the actions of other people, instead of saying ‘you did like that’ you may say, ‘I did not like that’. Although the message is the same expressing ‘I’ defuses the problem subtly. 
  • Explore the ways and means to assert yourself. 
  • Repeat your points firmly until the message goes strongly to the other person. 
  • Never say ‘Yes’ to unfair and unreasonable requests.
  • Practice assertion skills during your free time through your internal dialogue. 
  • Do meditation regularly as it helps keep your thoughts and emotions under control.  
  • Take feedback from your trusted friends about your behavior to bring out improvement.  
  • Don’t think of win-lose or lose-win but always think of a win-win situation.

It is not conflict but cooperation pays people finally. Assertiveness plays a crucial role in cooperation in the corporate world. It is time people realized the importance and significance of assertion skills. 

It is the foundation for building leadership qualities. History has proved time and again that it is not ‘might’ but ‘right’ that succeeded in the end. Assertiveness is the key to surviving and succeeding in the workplace because it minimizes conflicts and maximizes productivity. 

Tools to handle difficult people

To handle difficult people, you must understand your personality first. You must demonstrate positive body language and be assertive in your behavior.  Here are some tools to handle difficult people.  

  • Be cheerful to break the ice. 
  • Don’t lose your temper. Keep cool.
  • Listen attentively to avoid any confusion. 
  • Be assertive. Maintain positive body language. Be cheerful and stay positive. Address the behavior, not the individual.
  • Use humor to break the bottlenecks. 
  • Don’t get defensive when you are criticized. Be prepared to act rather than react. Be positive and constructive in your approach. 
  • Empathize with others. Look from others’ perspectives for a moment to address the conflicts. 
  • Emphasize the collective goals and objectives and inform them that they are paramount. 
  • Be flexible. There is no tailor-made solution to handle difficult people. Apply different strokes to break barriers and build bridges.
  • Don’t sweep the issues under the rug. Handle problematic people by addressing them with empathy and giving feedback. 
  • Be assertive. Remember neither aggressive nor submissive behavior helps in the workplace. Sharon Anthony Bower remarked, “The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well-being of others.”

Despite your best efforts, if there is no positive outcome to handling difficult people through soft skills, you may have to use negative motivation to set them all right. 

Appreciate the fact that people are different with unique emotions, egos, and feelings. As long as people are there, conflicts are bound to erupt. There are always differences in opinions, views, perceptions, attitudes, aptitudes, and approaches in people. 

Hence, it is essential to prevent conflicts through effective and efficient communication. If the conflicts are not averted, they would result in a crisis. 

To conclude, look at the commonalities amongst the people, not the differences to resolve conflicts. The common thread running across the people will make human life peaceful, pleasant, and memorable.

Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and the Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with forty years of experience and the author of fifty books including the award-winning ‘See the Light in You’ URL: He is a C-Suite advisor and global keynote speaker. He brings a strategic eye and long-range vision given his multifaceted professional experience including military, teaching, training, research, consultancy, and philosophy. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine. He trains a new generation of leaders through leadership education and publications.

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How Entrepreneurs Are Harnessing LLCs to Launch Successful Startups

LLCs have unique advantages for starting up and growing a successful business



why you should set up an LLC

In my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve learned that LLCs have unique advantages for starting up and growing a successful business. But, before delving into the advantages, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of what an LLC is and how it operates. 

What is an LLC?

An LLC is a hybrid business entity that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship. This unique blend provides entrepreneurs with the best of both worlds: personal asset protection and simplified taxation.

One of the most significant advantages of an LLC is its limited liability feature. This means that as the owner, my personal assets are shielded from any liabilities or debts incurred by the business.

In the event of lawsuits or financial obligations, only the assets of the LLC are at risk, offering me peace of mind and protecting my personal wealth.

Advantages of Forming an LLC

Flexibility in Management and Structure

Another aspect of the LLC that appealed to me was its flexibility in management and structure. Unlike corporations, which have rigid hierarchies and formalities, LLCs allow for a more relaxed approach to governance. As the founder, I have the freedom to structure the company in a way that suits the needs and goals of my startup.

For instance, LLCs can choose to be managed by their members (owners) or appoint a manager to oversee operations. This flexibility enables me to maintain full control of the business or delegate management responsibilities to trusted individuals while retaining ownership.

Additionally, LLCs are not bound by strict meeting requirements or extensive record-keeping obligations, reducing administrative burdens and allowing me to focus on building and growing the business.

Pass-Through Taxation and Financial Efficiency

One of the most attractive features of an LLC, particularly for startups, is its pass-through taxation. Unlike corporations, which are subject to double taxation (taxation at both the corporate and individual levels), LLCs pass profits and losses directly to their members’ personal tax returns.

This tax efficiency not only simplifies the filing process but also allows for greater flexibility in managing cash flow and reinvesting profits back into the business. As an entrepreneur, minimizing tax liabilities and maximizing financial efficiency are critical components of long-term success, and the pass-through taxation feature of an LLC aligns perfectly with these objectives.

Enhanced Credibility and Professionalism

Establishing an LLC can also enhance the credibility and professionalism of a startup. Unlike sole proprietorships or general partnerships, which may be perceived as informal or less legitimate, an LLC provides a formal business structure that instills confidence in customers, investors, and partners.

By operating under the umbrella of an LLC, I can present my startup as a reputable and established entity, which can open doors to opportunities such as securing financing, attracting top talent, and forging strategic partnerships.

This enhanced credibility can be a significant advantage, particularly in competitive industries or when seeking to differentiate my startup in the market.

Protection of Intellectual Property and Brand Assets

For startups built around innovative ideas or unique intellectual property, protecting these assets is paramount. An LLC offers an additional layer of protection for intellectual property and brand assets, safeguarding them from infringement or unauthorized use.

By registering trademarks, copyrights, or patents under the name of the LLC, I can establish legal ownership and enforce my rights more effectively in the event of disputes or infringement claims. This protection not only preserves the value of my intellectual property but also enhances the overall stability and longevity of the startup.

Steps to Form an LLC

Let us now look at the general steps to form an LLC for your business:

Step 1: Choose a Name for Your LLC

Selecting a unique and distinguishable name is the first step in forming an LLC. Ensure that the name you choose complies with the rules set by your state’s LLC division. Typically, the name must end with “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or an abbreviation of these terms.

Additionally, the name should not infringe on the trademarks of existing businesses.

Step 2: Designate a Registered Agent

A registered agent is an individual or entity appointed to receive legal documents, such as lawsuits or subpoenas, on behalf of the LLC. The registered agent must have a physical address within the state where the LLC is formed.

For instance, if you are forming an LLC in Texas, ensure that your registered agent has a physical address in Texas.

This role is crucial for ensuring that the LLC remains compliant with legal requirements and maintains good standing.

Step 3: File Articles of Organization

The Articles of Organization, also known as a Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization in some states, is a document that formally establishes the LLC. You’ll need to submit this document to the appropriate state agency, usually the Secretary of State or Division of Corporations.

The articles typically include basic information such as the LLC’s name, address, registered agent details, and the purpose of the business.

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement

While not always a legal requirement, drafting an operating agreement is highly recommended for LLCs. This document outlines the ownership structure, management roles, voting rights, profit-sharing arrangements, and other important aspects of the LLC’s operations.

Even if you’re the sole owner of the LLC, having an operating agreement in place can help clarify expectations and prevent disputes in the future.

Step 5: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your LLC for tax purposes.

Even if your LLC doesn’t have employees, obtaining an EIN is necessary for opening a business bank account, filing taxes, and conducting other financial transactions.

Step 6: Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses

Depending on the nature of your business and its location, you may need to obtain various permits, licenses, or certifications to operate legally. These requirements can vary widely from one industry and jurisdiction to another. Common examples include business licenses, zoning permits, health permits, and professional licenses.

In my entrepreneurial journey, the decision to establish my startups as LLCs has been instrumental in mitigating risks, optimizing financial performance, and positioning my ventures for long-term success.

By harnessing the advantages of the LLC structure, I’ve been able to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship with confidence and resilience, laying the groundwork for a bright and prosperous future.

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Build a Strong IT Team with These Smart Hiring Tips

Without dedicated IT staff, your company may not be able to function as efficiently or effectively



Hiring tips for tech industry

The role of IT staff in your company is not only essential but also ever-evolving. As your business grows, so does the need for qualified IT staff and more robust recruiting solutions.

After all, from maintaining and troubleshooting the computer systems that keep your business running smoothly, IT staff also help employees stay connected and productive by providing technical support at all times. (more…)

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5 Important Legal Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Know

With a firm commitment to legal knowledge, you pave the way to grow your business sustainably



legal tips for entrepreneurs

Embarking on the entrepreneurial path is a courageous venture that calls for a diverse skill set to achieve enduring success.

While creativity, drive, and strategic vision are paramount, integrating legal insight into your entrepreneurial toolkit can be a game-changer.

This comprehensive guide delves deeper into the five critical steps that can empower you to navigate the intricate legal landscape and propel your venture toward prosperity. (more…)

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6 Hacks to Boost Your Productivity as a Business Owner

To improve how much you get done each day, it’s smart to establish routines and use careful planning



productivity for business owners

Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to get more done with the time and resources they have. Business owners can use clever productivity tricks to break these limits and make the most of their projects. (more…)

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