Confronting The Boss From Hell

April 9, 2002

The most difficult person to deal with in the workplace might just be your boss!

When I finished reading the best seller Dealing with Difficult People I was so impressed by the advice and techniques it contained, that I thought the book could just as easily be renamed Management 101. I couldn’t understand why such a simple and economical resource that could really make a difference to people’s effectiveness, productivity and dare I say, happiness in the workplace, was not a prescribed text! Author Roberta Cava is similarly perplexed, especially given that her knowledge and extensive experience of this subject shows that managers and supervisors are in fact the worst offenders!

I caught up with Roberta recently to chat about her best-seller and to get some top tips on dealing with difficult people that could really make (or save) your day!

“I keep seeing people who get up in the morning, they’re in a good mood they run into some difficult situations and it ruins their day,” says Roberta identifying a common scenario. “What I try to do is give people the ability to stay in control in difficult situations and to not let other people get control over their life,” says Roberta of her internationally-presented and widely-acclaimed tips and techniques.

“It has been so effective that I get letters from all over the world now from people who say that their lives have changed because they have been able to change their way of responding,” she says of her infinitely rewarding work. A best-seller that’s been in print since 1990, available world-wide through eight publishers and in five languages, it’s easy to see that Roberta’s endeavours in Dealing With Difficult People are both appreciated and necessary. While certainly her area of expertise, Roberta’s work doesn’t stop with workplace scenarios and survival guides.

“I’m busy doing an awful lot of writing related to the book; magazine and newspaper articles and I’m writing a sequel to it for Pan Macmillan in Australia and it’s called Dealing With Difficult Situations. I’ve already written Dealing with Difficult Spouses and Children, Dealing with Difficult Relatives and In-Laws, and there is going to be a whole stream of them come out eventually,” she says of her seemingly prolific output.

The culmination of over seven years worth of experiences in her hugely popular seminars on dealing with difficult people, the book of the same name took just four months to write. A chapter added to the revised edition in 2000 names the 115 (yes, that’s right!) types of manipulators – your basic “difficult” people – and offers strategies on how to deal with them. Roberta explains. “When I first started doing my seminars Dealing with Difficult People I always thought that the most difficult people in the world would be the client. Then I thought that the second most difficult people to people working, of course would be the colleague. I was decidedly wrong,” she admits. “Overwhelmingly, the biggest problems in business start at the top.”

“The reason for this is that most supervisors and managers, directors and CEO, executives of companies have not had basic supervisory training and this is extremely true in Australia. I have never seen so few people in supervisory positions that have the basic supervisory knowledge. And they make a lot of mistakes,” she adds.

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