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Describe an experience you have had dealing with a difficult person. How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome?
Advice
The candidate should be able to describe a difficult person they have had to deal with, whether in a professional capacity or a personal setting - we will all have had them. The candidate should confirm how they deal with such situation - the ideal approach will be to listen and remain calm. The candidate should be able to go onto describe what the result was. "In my time with dealing with the public there has been several times when there have been difficult people I have had to deal with. One that springs to mind is when a students registration form had disappeared which resulted in them missing an extra curricula activity. I listened to what had happened in their view. I then confirmed what the process is our end so that I could understand where things may have gone wrong. From this I was able to propose a way forward. In this instance, the deadline was missed and there was no room left on the activity so they had missed it this time round but now knew going forward what to do if the opportunity arose again. While a difficult situation, it was important for me to remain calm and solution focussed."
Answer examples
"In my time with dealing with the public there has been several times when there have been difficult people I have had to deal with. One that springs to mind is when a students registration form had disappeared which resulted in them missing an extra curricula activity. I listened to what had happened in their view. I then confirmed what the process is our end so that I could understand where things may have gone wrong. From this I was able to propose a way forward. In this instance, the deadline was missed and there was no room left on the activity so they had missed it this time round but now knew going forward what to do if the opportunity arose again. While a difficult situation, it was important for me to remain calm and solution focussed."

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User-Submitted Answers

Describe an experience you have had dealing with a difficult person. How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome?
1.
I had to let a parent know that the room she usually had to wait in was not available as we had booked for perinatal support group..... She was not happy and said she hadn't needed any help when she was pregnant and just got on with it! I explained how not we were there to support everyone and this meant sharing resources and compromise. She left angrily but later came back and apologised as she understood I was in the right and her attitude did soften. We did have some individual complaints, however, often decisions affected a lot of people because we provided group activities etc. We had a lot of concerns from parents when we had to change provision and we arranged group meetings to explain our rationale and why we made decsion, for the good of everyone, not just a few. I took feedback, responded in person and to group and set up new provision. Most parents came back after a while and understood our reasons, just didn't like it.
2.
A customer was recently very upset to discover that she owed nearly £30 in library fines, and stated that she would not pay them. I very calmly suggested that we have a look at how the fines had built up, and showed her how a series of small fines had added up. I made sure that she knew how to avoid fines by checking due dates, renewing books online, and returning books 24/7 at any drop-box. I empathised with her situation, and made sure that she understood that we weren't asking her to pay the sum all at once. I made a detailed note on her account and we agreed that she could continue to use her account provided that she made a contribution of at least £2 a week toward her fines. I felt comfortable agreeing to this because it was easy for my colleagues to see the agreement on her record, and we could easily revoke access if she didnt hold up her side of the deal. She was grateful for my understanding, and paid off the fines over a period of several weeks. I try to deal with situations like this calmly and with empathy, which customers respond well to.
3.
One of the tutor was very upset at not getting the hours that he thought he was supposed to get, I explained the process of how the hours are given and the reason for the number of hours that he was assigned. He was content with the information that I gave him.
4.
My boss was completely at loggerheads with the art dept. Coordinator. It got to the point where he customized his ring tone to play the Jaws theme song whenever she called. I humored both of them and made sure that I did most of the interactions between our department and hers,
5.
Part of working in the hub is screening all the learners that enquire into our courses before booking them onto an assessment. This involves asking a series of questions to establish if they are suitable. On one occasion whilst in the process of this the gentleman became upset as to why I was asking so many questions. I calmly explained to him that this is part of my job and I ask everyone the same questions. I was honest and explained why we have to ask these questions. He eventually starting to understand, calmed down and apologised .
6.
Payam, poor thesis quality, became 2nd author, many revisions to thesis, stated the facts in letters of reference,
7.
Moving staff into a shared working space where a member of staff found accepting change difficult. I engaged with the person, listened, acknowledged their fears. Calmly and positively I outlined the benefits of the new situation and asked them to try and embrace it and they did.
8.
Managing mitigating circumstances was often very emotional for the students as their lives had seriously interfered with their studies. I spoke to one student for an hour to ensure that they felt listened to and that I understood the full extent of their difficulties. I showed empathy for his situation but was able to be firm about the university regulations in ensuring he provided the evidence required for the mitigating circumstances panel that he was submitting a claim to.
9.
Dealing with a staff member who was taking credit for work which I had produced. I approached the person and explained that I was dissappointed that my work was presented as his and that I did not want this to happen again and if this person required support in preparing material for a meeting I would definitely help but to not pass of the work as his.
10.
Dealing with a colleague who was under a lot of stress and I requested information which must have been the straw which broke the camels back. She reacted by yelling and being abusive to me. After my initial shock I removed myself from the situation, sat by myself and reviewed the logical process of what just happened making sure me being upset was not purely and emotional reaction. Later in the morning I approached my coworker and asked if we could have a conversation about the event earlier int he day and told her how I felt that I was attacked when doing my job. We talked through the process and agreed that it could have been handled better but would move on from the episode. Now I make sure that when I am dealing with colleagues it is always be introduction 'hi how are you? before making a request.
11.
How to demand staff in place of retired staff.
12.
An academic staff who was victimising a student for no just reason. I invited him to my office and discussed some issues that appealed to his before discussing the matter which was amicably resolved.
13.
With my co-worker over taking classes which we have to take both, as he took leaves unofficially so loads of completion of syllabus come to me as my responsibility. i sort it out talking to him just to make me informed previously so that I can manage those classes.
14.
I went to the patient and took him aside from the reception area. I apologised for appointment delay and told the patient that there was an emergency at the consulting room and it would be the patient's turn soon. I also fetched the patient a glass of water and the patient became calm again. In end he apologised for shouting to the staff.
15.
Having worked in the retail sector in the past, and dealing with members of the public on a day-to-day basis, you would occasionally come into contact with someone who was unhappy with a situation. One particular instance involved a customer coming into the shop to make a complaint about a cake he had bought previously. Despite the man acting in a way that could be considered quite malicious and problematic, I remained calm and asked the customer what he feels should be done to resolve his disapproval. The man asked that he be refunded for his purchase, which (once checking the guidelines of this with staff) I quickly did. He further asked for an address to write a complaint to, and whilst apologising that he had had an experience that had made him unhappy, provided him with the required address.
16.
First I didn't pay attention to what he is trying to do, then I showed him that this not ok to deal in such a way, then we had a honest talk that solve everything.
17.
There is these investigator that always bring me late the documents to run and she wanted that.