Someone once said, “90% of the art of living consists in getting along with people you cannot understand.” Haven’t you found that to be true? Don’t you wish everyone were just like you? Then relationships would be much simpler. But people ARE different, in wonderfully complex ways. And there IS an art to living together. If you’re a leader, dealing with difficult people is twice as hard because you have to not only get along but also influence the other person. So it’s especially important for a leader to learn how to handle personalities and attitudes that are different from their own. A good leader discovers ways to effectively lead most people. EVERY person you lead, it’s important to get to know him or her. Understanding is the key to success in dealing with difficult people. That’s because people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Let’s talk about one type of difficult person today, so you can understand whom he is and where he’s coming from. This will make you a more effective leader for him and others like him.

Have you met Fred? He’s a nice guy, certainly not trying to be difficult. He’s just a person living under the influence of his fears. And their influence is amazingly strong. What Fred is most afraid of is the unknown. He avoids anything new or different, so it’s hard to lead him where he’s never been before. And his fears paralyze his productivity. To lead Fred, you need to understand him, be willing to listen, and give him tools to grow. People truly don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. If Fred trusts you and believes that you have his best interests at heart, he can be very loyal and even courageous.

Understanding Fearful Fred:

  • Attitude: Low Enthusiasm
  • Motivated by: Support
  • Strength: Steady Worker
  • Weakness: Fear of Risk

Listening to Fearful Fred:

  1. Privately sit down and discuss Fred’s fears.
  2. Identify his fears and the reasons why he has them.
  3. Evaluate his desire to overcome his fears.
  4. If his desire is high, develop a game plan.

Leading Fearful Fred:

  1. Plan a project together. This gives him Strategy
  2. Give guidelines to follow. This gives him Structure
  3. Do a project that is easy. This gives him Safety
  4. Do a project together. This gives him Security
  5. Do a project that is winnable. This gives him Success

Do you lead a Fearful Fred? By attempting to understand and meet him where he is, a leader can successfully influence Fred and help him to grow. And a motivated Fearful Fred can also lead himself through these exercises and find courage.

To read more in this series, click the names to find out about Critical Carl, Slumped Susan, Excited Eddie, Grandstand Gary, and Disorganized Debbie.