10 PTO Leader Resources for Dealing With Difficult People

by Rose Hamilton


We've had lots of lively discussions on our PTO and PTA Leaders group about dealing with negativity, including this thread that offers great tips on what to do when parents complain and drag you down. (Catch a few gems in the video at the bottom of this post.) We wanted pass along some of our best resources on handling negativity and what leaders can do for themselves to stay positive and enjoy (not just tolerate) the upcoming school year!

1. Don’t avoid your most challenging parents.

When you try to understand the likely reason why someone is confrontational, you’re better able to diffuse these awkward situations.

Resource: How To Deal With Difficult People

2. Share responsibilities so you’re not a (cranky) one-man show.

Be willing to offload tasks so you stress less and have more time to devote to your important goals.

Resource: Polish Your Delegation Skills

3. Reach out to fellow leaders for comfort and validation.

Try connecting with other PTO and PTA leaders locally and online to share experiences with folks who really get you.

Resource: Build a Leader Network: Help Is All Around You

4. Give yourself a break.

Schedule occasional downtime or just pure fun so you stay healthy (mentally and physically).

Resource: A Key To Avoiding PTO Burnout: Take a Breather

5. Embrace personal organizational systems.

Find the time-saving tactics that work best for you and commit to using them so that you’re doing less PTO busywork.

Resource: Reduce Your PTO Stress

6. Meet criticism with a smile (even if it’s a slightly fake one).

When a parent points out what stank about a recent event, thank them for their feedback and move on.

Resource: How To React to Critics

7. Put the kibosh on gossip. (You think you can’t, but you can!)

If you hear putdowns, address them quickly and publicly by saying you know there have been rumblings (don’t mention anyone by name!), but here’s what’s really happening.

Resource: Stop the PTO Drama

8. Get a fix on what makes what makes your volunteers tick.

When you understand personality types, you can better resolve the inevitable problems that crop up among volunteers.

Resource: Managing Personality Conflicts

9. Get a fix on what makes you tick.

Take our quiz to understand your strengths as a leader. Knowing what you’re good at better prepares you to handle any situation.

Resource: Rate Your Leadership Skills

10. Try to have a good laugh at least once a day.

One of the best ways to get rid of negative energy is to have a good belly laugh. Check out our Facebook page when you can because we are committed to posting something silly on a regular basis. We believe in the power of laughter...check out the image below!

Resource: PTO Today on Facebook

As a bonus, we wanted to share some advice from PTO and PTA leaders that we collected for this video: 

Originally posted in 2016 and updated regularly

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