5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

Use these ideas to get what you want and need from difficult people at work.

Posted Nov 20, 2018

Source: Pexels

Both in the office and in our personal lives, it is safe to assume that we will encounter difficult people. The key is to brace ourselves with easy-to-apply strategies so that we remain as calm and unaffected as possible.

At work, how you deal with a specific boss, colleague, or subordinate who’s currently making your life miserable depends on the outcome you want to accomplish. However, several general guidelines can help you.

1. Put problem people in proper perspective. You’re nothing but an afterthought to them, so don’t take their antics personally. They’re not concerned about you, because they’re too busy worrying about themselves. You just happen to be either an obstacle or an essential ingredient to them getting what they want. You have to figure out how to break free of their control.

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2. Take your pick: positive or negative. You can’t concentrate on constructive, creative alternatives while you cling to negative feelings. Go somewhere to vent your emotions and cool off. Think about the result you really want, the consequence or outcome that most benefits you. That will help you to let go of the hurt.

3. Don’t expect difficult people to change. They won’t—and in one way that’s good. Because their behavior is often predictable, this enables you to plan ahead, plotting the tactics you’ll use the next time. Troublemakers may not change, but by choosing a better approach, you can change the outcome.

4. Learn to respond as well as to listen. Come forward and state that you feel annoyed, upset, or enraged. No one can read your mind. Sometimes, the offense was totally unintentional and can be easily resolved if allowed to surface. Ask questions instead of making accusations. If you let others save face, you give them room to change their minds.

5. Give and request frequent feedback. Don’t stew about what someone else may be thinking—ask! Use open-ended questions to let emotional people vent their feelings before you try to reason with them and explore options. When you link your objectives with another’s wants, not only do you have his or her attention, but you both win something.

Remember to pause and take a breath before reacting to any difficult situation. Sometimes, just a short pause can help us to gain necessary clarity so that we react in a way that we will be proud of the following morning.

Copyright© 2018 Amy Cooper Hakim

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