There will always be distractions in your work. Like driving in traffic, where other drivers seem bent on making your trip difficult, the people in your project will sometimes look like they are purposely trying to make a mess of things. Your team members, your Sponsor and Management, your clients and their team members – even your own thoughts and reactions – can all contribute to this sense of distraction and project entropy.
It is part of our responsibility as Project Managers to maintain focus in the face of this. When a client seems to be determined to make the situation as confusing as possible, we can step back, take a long view, and bring some order to the chaos. We will not always succeed, and we will almost never be perfect, but the effort, especially in the face of daunting pressure, is the mark of a professional. It is amazing what one simple clarification can do for a project.
If you come to believe that team members or clients are truly, purposefully trying to make things bad (cross-connecting otherwise unrelated issues, always persistently misunderstanding a given situation, repeatedly introducing and reintroducing closed issues) you may wish to confront that behaviour. Before you do so, however, remember that all behaviour is motivated. They have reason for what they do, even if you cannot see it or understand it. Try your best to imagine and to understand their position and motivations before you confront. Be prepared, be open minded…and Stay Focused.