When I became Chair, everybody warned me about two people who were going to be extremely difficult. I went in prepared for endless aggravation from these two.
But guess what? They turned to be the easiest, most pleasant people to work with.
I now realize that what many perceive as “difficult” is that these two know exactly what they want and they verbalize it strongly, clearly, and decisively. I don’t mind being pushed because I can push back. Or not if an argument is clearly articulated to me and I find it convincing.
What I do mind is the people with a low tolerance for conflict who try to communicate their feelings through passive-aggressive sulking. I’d so much rather have somebody say, “this schedule / textbook / whatever” is inconvenient to me. This is what I propose instead” than have them go into a sulk, forcing me to guess what they are unhappy about.