Dealing with Difficult People - Part 4

Have you ever noticed that some people seem "difficult" to deal with and others are easy? And some people think the "difficult" people are easy to get along with?

Processors vs Innovators

I work with companies using Lean Six Sigma, the improvement methodology Jack Welch used at GE to save billions. Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology. It's about getting things done right the first time. It's about following a step-by-step procedure.

Innovators hate Lean Six Sigma! Innovators have to find another way to do something even if there's a successful path right in front of them. They like the freedom to break the rules. They like choices and options.

The battle between processors and innovators has a long history. Here's the deal: there is no right answer. First we innovate and then we improve the process for delivering the innovation (i.e., a process).

We have to get these people to talk to each other, but first we have to find out which is which. There's a simple question that will determine this for you. Ask: "Why did you choose your current job or work?

  • Innovators will give you a list of criteria for choosing this job.
  • Processors will tell you a story (a process) about how the job found them.

It's that easy!

The Language of Connection, Not Conflict

Once you know if someone is a processor or innovator, you can connect with them more easily by using their language.

  Influencing Language


Give them step-by-step instructions

Show them the "right" way to do something


Tell them how whatever it is will give them freedom, more choice, better options

Tell them it "breaks the rules"

One of my favorite NLP instructors, Connirae Andreas knew there were a lot of innovators in class. She used to give breakout instructions to the class in this way:

Feel free to restrict yourself to doing it just this way.

She knew that they needed to "feel free" to restrict themselves to following the prescribed process at least the first time through. It's an option they'd probably never tried.

For processors, they may need to know that the right way to do something is to find all of the options in a step-by-step way.

Get the idea? The right way to develop rapport is to the break all the rules by learning to speak the other person's language. They'll warm up to you and you'll get more things done more quickly.

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008-2024 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, 888-468-1537, ."