Dealing with obstinate people:

Sometimes I just wonder why God made some people so obstinate? I mean, particularly people being negative and obstinate or people being obstinate but adaptive. Earlier, many times I myself use to ask me “Did you behave today a little obstinate manner?” Over a period of time, I started analyzing my own behaviour on certain issues. That is when someone advised me to “look towards the issues from a third person perspective when in straights”.

Of course, the problem becomes a little tricky when the obstinate person is a key member of your team or your boss, colleague, a family member or even associates of any term.

Having gone through these kind of situations not once but many a times, allow me suggest that unless you are new to the set-up and inherited some of these kind of people, you should be thorough with your homework before you let the person (if found negative in approach) push issues from bad to worse.

Unfortunately, none of us can claim that our way, our thinking, our approach is the only perfect ones. Many a times, we start leading by virtue of a responsibility conferred on us by the powers that be though we may or may not be perfect in leading from the front. In such cases, I have an afterthought to deal with an obstinate colleague, boss or elder.

I was pretty much determined that I have to navigate sitting in my position and I will. I was also determined that I will do so by making people see my reasoning even if it means rubbing someone or getting rubbed of self.

Use to confront most or all of the following —

I use to have all the facts in its order of priority.

I use to talk to the persons concerned briefly and in confidence – one to one. Even after that if I fail, that is when I start looking at the third person’s perspective. What if this problem is elsewhere and I am called to be the ombudsman? Now I will translate myself into an ombudsman’s position and start analyzing the entire things from that position.

You are always going to have obstinate people and it is for us to pick our battles wisely. In most cases, however, wisdom expressed by leadership would say do not blow it out of proportion. Yes, it is annoying, but as a leader you need to be able to effectively deal with annoyances. You may have to live with it.

After all, you are the one, responsible for moving the mission forward and for the development of the set-up. Do not let the obstinacy of any one individual of this world detract you. If you surrender to such issues, you wont be able to lead at all.

You will either gain a trusted friend or you will move the problem out of leadership. Maybe you’ll do both.


Madhu K. Nair [25th August 2003]

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