Dealing With Difficult People (or Situations)

While we are pushing hard on learning new skills and doing new things and trying somehow to make a living at it, we are still interacting with people. On today’s social media landscape you can see examples which are what we have been seeing for the last twenty years. Influencers gaining more followers in hours than you can gain in years (in B2B and technical product marketing).

Jealous at Brittany Furlan Lee?

Once on an interview, a financial blog MARCOM manager asked me: “how are you going to make us the Brittany Furlan of financial blogs?” (this was before the “Lee” was in her life.) We talked about how to create interesting appealing articles and then we got to the audience. We can’t say anything about Furlan’s audience, except that it is not a niche. This is the world of today’s social media promotion, if you have a niche need, you can customize your message and overall image and come out like an expert in your field (influencer). But Furlan is a sort of “gag influencer” she makes people laugh and sometimes she gets on people’s nerves. But generally she shows the world how we can live and see in a sarcastic and FUNNY perspective. Some general influencers try to be classy (show how the rich live) some influencers try to be controversial, essentially making political or economic statement on life, or the government, or politicians (the Huff Post, FOX News, Roger Stone, etc.) Will this kind of approach transfer to consumer products (such a personal investment advice)? Should we do this with financial services? Should we make fun of Trump’s economic approach to get financial readers’ attention interested in our blogs and advertised services? I don’t think there is a clear black and white answer, but for the most part most corporate marketing (and message crafters) are not using this approach. They would rather try and become a source of information (or breaking news) or somehow become an authority in their niche field. What makes coming to this decision a “difficult person”? Essentially when the “boss” (or customer) wants to use one approach, and as a specialist you want to use another. AND the boss’s approach does not work as they think it should! Essentially you get the articles out and the social media networking effort gets results, BUT it does nto SELL! Then the knives come out and you have a duel (a hand to hand fight) one blames the other, and there is not flexibility to get the job done. This is the difficulty that I sarcastically call Yogi Berra:

If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him, Yogi Berra

see the quote on Goodreads: Yogi Berra. If you are dealing with someone who wants to sell electronic equipment (ICs, antennas, connectors, software) the way Brittany Furlan sells cloths or makeup, you will have a difficult time. (that happened to me once)

Difficulty in Definition and Clear Vision (Goals)

This category is critical in today’s ever-changing landscape. Essentially everyone sees what needs to be done in their own way. Either we see how a successful idea (or product) the competition is explained (how it’s sold), or we know what customers want to know (from sales engagement) or we actually see how potential client communicate (here social media is a new tool). In today’s world: writing style, content type even product messages and formats reflect every kind product and reader we can imagine. There are no standards or formats like we had in newspapers and magazine or TV era. Designs follow what people like not what marketing agencies dictate (which was in the past). This means two people can be working on the same product with a totally different vision (or style). Two people can see totally different worlds up to now, they have their own personal views. The chances they will have the same results are small. When two styles are different, and people can’t

How to resolve the definition difficulty with people? Some do this with highly detailed and clearly defined specifications. If you can mock up a site, a user experience (UX/UI) and even some of the related work (social media messages) you can explain what you see as the needed work. If you can sit and looks at previous examples that each person has done, or explain what you like in other people’s work (competition, similar products) you can explain your style and even the content itself (messages, meaning strategy). If you can also research and analyze specific markets (the people’s behavior) preferences (what the market likes) and even analyze existing work (what other are doing? does it work? are they getting the results that you think your can get?) you can do this. In some companies this is marketing planning. It could also be product planning. Essentially some organizations like to plan in detail first. Some don’t like to plan in detail and simply give the developers a free hand. Either way management’s guidelines in form of a strategic plan. Some companies use style guides to assure uniform writing and graphic production. Some used samples case studies or templates for content creation.


When you start working with people and teams, there is a possibility of friction. If you have a good attitude and look in a non-emotional and detailed work perspective, handling difficult situations and people will go easier. This perspective usually comes with experience with people and projects. Hopefully my experience can be useful for you. Contact me for more details and if you need a fresh perspective.

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