In a perfect world, our communication with others would always involve being open, friendly, and dedicated to the task at hand. Unfortunately, not everyone has this mindset, especially when planning a complex event.

So, what should you do when you are having a hard time dealing with others, whether they are co-workers, new clients, or vendors? Check out our four step method to get you safely through the minefield of talking with difficult people.

Step 1: Listen Deeply

First step: Stop, breathe, and listen. This may sound simple but even the best of us forget that sometimes we just need to be in the present moment to get a grasp of the situation. When you are listening, it’s important to remember that sometimes it’s easier for people to describe something in one way but really mean something else entirely. You can help this confusion by making sure to let others speak without interruption so that they can have the time to clearly get their point across.

Step 2: Use SMART Responses

When it’s your turn to respond, try and provide SMART feedback (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound). This format allows you to speak objectively and maintain a level-headed approach that will hopefully clear your partner’s head from thinking on the defense. Also, we recommend that you try and speak from your own experiences to allow your conversation partner to know that you can relate to their point of view.

Step 3: Document Everything

While you don’t want your professional relationship to come to tit for tat, it’s important that you can evidently document your mutual experience. Unfortunately, some people are driven by the sole prospect of winning, even at the expense of your time, money, and energy. Whenever possible, try to have your correspondence in writing as it allows for a paper trail to prevent any kind of potential mess if there is a misunderstanding.  

Step 4: Consider Your Consequences

Staying calm will always work to your best advantage, even if something is really getting under your skin. We recommend going back to the basics and follow your breath as you try to ground yourself, especially if you think you might fly off the handle. Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war, so try to think about the matter at hand and remember that, hopefully, you both have the same end goal. With this all being said, if your communication comes to a bitter head, we don’t recommend that you continue working with someone who makes you utterly miserable. We all have a line in the sand and only you can determine when enough is enough.

Planning an event, especially a big one, can seem like a daunting task. There are a million things to do and, if you’re like most organizations, very few people to help. But don’t worry! We’ve broken down the event planning process into nine simple steps for overall success. Check out our free guide 9 Steps to Event Planning below!