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You gotta feel sorry for those angry, difficult partners!

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Trust & Respect, Values

It does seem like we have been laying into angry or difficult partners lately – so much so, you (almost) gotta feel sorry for them! (not really, we all know how difficult they can really be and how much time and positive energy they eat up) –  3 recent posts attest to this:

  1. Difficult partners – what not to do
  2. What to do with difficult cogs in a partnership
  3. Angry babies and difficult partners have a lot in common – some EQ tips

My partner Gerry Riskin, founding partner of Edge International provides another perspective in “Defusing the bomb – dealing with difficult partners” (PDF) in our Edge International Review.

The harsh reality is that you have to deal with truly difficult partners - otherwise they are a lighted fuse waiting to go off in small bursts or maybe, at some stage in a severely damaging implosion.

In his inimitable style Gerry deals with:

  • the importance of communicating directly;
  • the importance of listening and trying to understand the perspective of the partner concerned;
  • making an effort to get them to understand the (negative) impact they may be having;
  • extracting an undertaking for them to be more cautious in expressing their views;
  • asking them to limit expressing negative views;
  • in some cases maybe even holding certain meetings without the difficult partner present;
  • considering whether the behaviours are such as to warrant medical or other outside professional assistance;
  • the necessity, sometimes, to address the matter full-on and issue an ultimatum;
  • the fact that sometimes, expulsion may be the only option; and
  • the problem of avoidance and the necessity of overcoming this.

all the best, Sean Larkan, Partner, Edge International