If being in front of some people causes your work to suffer, read on.

I often meet people who want to improve their sales, or communication. Perhaps you have been totally flummoxed when somebody said something, or worse still by the presence of a certain type of person.

Feedback: Using it to imrprove a team

I have found myself being less effective at work, when having to work in the presence of some people, or by some questions.

How to deal with objections

Sometimes the things that were said are as “simple as” objections made in a sales process (or trying to influence your staff). I have written tips for objection handling in a separate article. Click here for six great tips on dealing with objections.

Dealing with awkward people

A few weeks ago I was totally put off my stride. I was presenting and there was a person in the audience that I allowed to distract me, result…..less than perfect performance. It made me reflect, research and try some other ideas.

They may not even be awkward, maybe you struggle to perform well with certain people around. They maybe unpleasant, or you and they just don’t get on for some reason.

There are two things I put into practice, one set is a logical and longer term set of solutions; the other borrows from Harry Potter.

8 tips to stop yourself being put off by other people.

Not dealing with this can lead to a reduction in performance (I know, mine did) or even worse start to lead “passive aggressive behaviour”, which really makes performance suffer. Some of these tips can help.

Considering this person:

  1. Don’t think about them all the time: It’s easy to let some people dominate our thoughts; close them out of your thoughts. My issue with them was starting to affect other parts of my day, of my week, of my performance…..
    Think of somebody (or thing) that inspires you. Remember the saying “Where attention goes, energy flows”.
  2. Recognise it’s them not you: Thinking them will not change how they behave, but it may well change how you behave! There is a great saying “it’s like taking poison and hoping that the other person becomes ill”.
  3. Keep smiling: More seriously keep a good attitude; this is closely linked to the point about poison. Maintain a good attitude and keep your thinking clear. With the few people around that have affected me like this, I have normally later found that I am not the only who feels about them in this way – it’s their problem, not yours.
  4. No self deprecation: Generally I am a great believer in being humble, it can bring great benefits as a leader and as a sales person. BUT, this is the exception. Do not make jokes at your own expense to show they can’t hurt you. They may add their own ridicule and humiliation.
  5. Silence as a weapon: If somebody says something or acts unreasonably, it’s easy to react and argue. It maybe appropriate to maintain silence and not respond, ignoring them will reduce their influence (over you at the very least). Your silence may also allow you time to think of a suitable response.
  6. Don’t try avoidance: If you have to work with somebody you find difficult, the answer is rarely to change job. With billions of people in the world there will be other difficult people! Change your attitude, see it an opportunity for self improvement. Learning to deal with difficult people can help you can learn more about the power within you.
  7. Stop Talking About It: Have you ever found that people love talking problems or issues in your life? So we end up repeating the story to anyone who’ll listen, expressing how much we dislike/ hate the situation. BUT, this makes it worse, the more we think about how we dislike a person; the more we notice things about them we dislike. Do your best to not repeat the story to others. OK, writing this blog flies in the face of this piece of advice; but it has been cathartic.
  8. Don’t Expect to Change Them: They probably don’t want to change and it’s unlikely to be your role! Trying to change their behaviour may cause them to resent your interference. Unless it is essential you try to help (they’re one of your team etc.), don’t.

You will find our free guide “Improving your presentation skills” really useful, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

When confronted by somebody that puts you off

What if they are suddenly there, unexpectedly and you have a job to do. You don’t want to mess up or be put off by them.

Child wizard Harry Potter had to deal with Dementors, so he learnt the Boggart-Banishing Spell “Riddikulus”. This spell causes the creature to assume a form that is humorous to the caster, counteracting the Boggart’s ability to terrorise. The spell requires a strong mind and good concentration. One has to push past the fear, concentrating on something to change the appearance of the Boggart. One doesn’t repel a Boggart; just forces it to assume a different shape, so defeating it.

Mentally turning the person into a total idiot may go against some of the tips above; but visualising them as humorous, not powerful, or in some other useful way can help temporarily deal with the situation.

It took me many years to realise that some of the people that affected me the most were people I was slightly in awe of, thinking them to be superb in their role (and me less so).

Eventually realising that, without exception, they were humans and had similar frailties to myself made them seem less scary; this helped me perform better. Now I’ve learnt to recognise the symptoms and how to perform the Boggart charm!

Has it happened to you?

What tips do you have to avoid being put off?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access