In every workplace, you will have difficult coworkers. Dealing with difficult coworkers, bosses, customers, clients, and friends is an art worth perfecting. Dealing with difficult situations at work is challenging, yet rewarding.
You can vastly improve your own work environment and morale when you increase your ability to deal with the people at work. You also make your workplace a better environment for all employees when you address the problems that a difficult coworker is causing for the team.
You can increase your skill in dealing with the difficult people who surround you in your work world. These tips will help you.
Rise Above the Fray: Dealing With Difficult People at WorkEnis Aksoy/Getty ImagesDifficult people are found in every single workplace. Difficult people come in every variety that you can imagine. But, how difficult a person is for you to deal with depends a lot on such factors as your self-esteem, your self-confidence, how closely you must work with him on a daily basis, and your professional courage.
Dealing with difficult people is easier when the person is just generally obnoxious or when the behavior affects more than one person. You can team together to address the behavior or inform management to get help addressing the employee issue before it spirals into negativity.
Dealing with difficult people is much harder if the individual is publicly undermining your professional credibility or attacking you personally like a bully. But you can do it. Here are tips that will help you. More
How to Deal With a Bully at Work
vm/E+/Getty ImagesDo you think that you work with a bully? You do if you regularly feel intimidated, dread to work anywhere near a particular coworker and feel dismayed and upset about having to go to work. If you are yelled at, insulted, and put down, you work with a bully. If you have felt psychologically or physically threatened at work, you work with a bully.
Do you have a coworker who talks over you at meetings, who regularly criticizes your performance, and steals credit for your work? If you answer yes to these questions, chances are that you’re one of 54 million Americans who has been targeted by a bully at work. Learn more about how to deal with a difficult bully at work. More
How to Deal With a Negative Coworker
Negative, Smug Employees Incite Reactions from Coworkers. Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesSome coworkers wallow in their negativity. They don’t like their jobs and they don’t like working for their company. They always have bad bosses who are jerks who always treat them unfairly. The company is always going to fail and its customers are worthless and demanding.
You know these negative coworkers—every organization has a few. You can best deal with these negative coworkers by avoiding their presence at work. Assuming that this is not always possible for you, here are tips for dealing with difficult, negative coworkers.More
Overcome Your Fear of Confrontation and Conflict
Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty ImagesConfronting a coworker is never easy but it's often needed if you stick up for your rights at work. Whether the confrontation is about sharing credit for work accomplished, coworker habits and approaches that are irritating or sloppy, intentional missed customer delivery deadlines, or about keeping a project on track, sometimes you need to confront your coworker.
Although confrontation should not be your first step, you can become better and more comfortable with necessary conflict. These tips will help you feel more comfortable when you need to confront a coworker. Find out how dealing with difficult conflicts at work is easier and more positive when you follow these steps. More
Play Well With Others: Develop Effective Work Relationships
Oli Kellett/Taxi/Getty ImagesYou can ruin both your job and your career by the relationships you develop with your coworkers at work. Your education, experience, or title don't matter if you can't play well with your coworkers, You won't succeed in your career without forming positive relationships at work.
Effective relationships, with the boss and coworkers, create success and satisfaction on the job. Learn more about seven effective work relationship musts. Combat dealing with difficult people with these work relationship musts. More
How to Hold a Difficult Conversation
Reza Estakhrian/Iconica/Getty ImagesHave you encountered any of these examples of needing to deal with difficult people at work? They're just examples of the types of behavior that cry out for responsible feedback from a coworker or boss. But, for most people, holding a difficult conversation about a sensitive topic is challenging at work.
These steps will help you hold difficult conversations when people need professional feedback provided professionally. Holding a difficult conversation can have positive outcomes. Here's how to attain them. More
How to Tackle Annoying Employee Habits and Issues
Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images Have you worked with a coworker who had annoying habits such as loud gum chewing or bringing personal issues to the office every day? How about a coworker who had personal hygiene problems or exuded the smell of alcohol and coffee at work. You know what a productivity downer these kinds of behavioral and personal issues can present in the workplace.
If you want to attain some happiness at work, you must address these issues. Do you need some help and ideas about how to hold a difficult conversation? Here's how you can courageously address coworkers who have annoying habits and harmony-destructive issues in your workplace. More
Dealing With Difficult Bosses
Your Boss May Not Know How Bad He Really Is. ONOKY - Eric Herchaft/Brand X Pictures/Getty ImagesNothing is more destructive in the workplace than difficult bosses. Every employee has bosses who provide direction throughout their working careers. Hopefully, most of your bosses are competent, kind, and worthy of your trust and respect. They play such a significant role with the employees who report to them. Bosses can make or break an employee's day.
Unfortunately, too often, employees have difficult bosses who have a negative impact on their desire to engage and contribute in the workplace. Learn how dealing with difficult bosses is a skill you can develop. More
Team Building With Coworkers
Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/OJO+/Getty ImagesYou want to be well known and liked among the people the company regards as superstars, allies who have power and will speak up for you. (In fact, you can achieve job security if you are viewed as a superstar by your organization.)
Building alliances at work is smart, effective behavior when you want to develop positive coworker relationships. The alliances are crucial, also, for dealing with difficult or destructive coworker behavior in the workplace. More
How to Manage Gossip
Dr. Heinz Linke/E+/Getty ImagesGossip is rampant in most workplaces. It often seems that people have nothing better to do than gossip about each other. They gossip about their co-workers, their managers, and their company's prospects for success. They frequently take a partially true fact and blow it all out of proportion to its importance or intended meaning.
Dealing with difficult situations involving gossip occurs in every workplace. Find out how dealing with difficult gossip is a must-do and a can-do. You can obliterate destructive gossip from your workplace. More
Most of us encounter unreasonable people in our lives. We may be “stuck” with a difficult individual at work or at home. It’s easy to let a challenging person affect us and ruin our day. What are some of the keys to empowering yourself in such situations? Below are ten keys to handling unreasonable and difficult people, with references to my book (click on title): “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People”. Keep in mind that these are general rules of thumb, and not all of the tips may apply to your particular situation. Simply utilize what works and leave the rest.
1. Keep Your Cool
Benefits: Maintain self-control. Avoid escalation of problem.
How: The first rule in the face of an unreasonable person is to maintain your composure; the less reactive you are, the more you can use your better judgment to handle the situation.
When you feel angry or upset with someone, before you say something you might later regret, take a deep breath and count slowly to ten. In most circumstances, by the time you reach ten, you would have figured out a better way of communicating the issue, so that you can reduce, instead of escalate the problem. If you're still upset after counting to ten, take a time out if possible, and revisit the issue after you calm down.
2. "Fly Like an Eagle"
Benefits: More peace of mind. Reduce risk of friction.
How: Some people in our lives are simply not worth tussling with. Your time is valuable, so unless there’s something important at stake, don’t waste it by trying to change or convince a person who’s negatively entrenched. As the saying goes: “You can’t fly like an eagle if you hang out with turkeys!” Whether you’re dealing with a difficult colleague or an annoying relative, be diplomatic and apply the tips from this article when you need to interact with them. The rest of the time, keep a healthy distance.
3. Shift from Being Reactive to Proactive
Benefits: Minimize misinterpretation & misunderstanding. Concentrate energy on problem-solving.
How: When you feel offended by someone’s words or deeds, come up with multiple ways of viewing the situation before reacting. For example, I may be tempted to think that my co-worker is ignoring my messages, or I can consider the possibility that she’s been very busy. When we avoid personalizing other people's behaviors, we can perceive their expressions more objectively. People do what they do because of them more than because of us. Widening our perspective on the situation can reduce the possibility of misunderstanding.
Another way to reduce personalization is to try to put ourselves in the difficult individual’s shoes, even for just a moment. For example, consider the person you’re dealing with, and complete the sentence: “It must not be easy….”
“My child is being so resistant. It must not be easy to deal with his school and social pressures…”
“My boss is really demanding. It must not be easy to have such high expectations placed on her performance by management…”
“My partner is so emotionally distant. It must not be easy to come from a family where people don’t express affection…”
To be sure, empathetic statements do not excuse unacceptable behavior. The point is to remind yourself that people do what they do because of their own issues. As long as we’re being reasonable and considerate, difficult behaviors from others say a lot more about them than they do about us. By de-personalizing, we can view the situation more objectively, and come up with better ways of solving the problem.
4. Pick Your Battles
Benefits: Save time, energy and grief. Avoid unnecessary problems and complications.
How: Not all difficult individuals we face require direct confrontation about their behavior. There are two scenarios under which you might decide not to get involved. The first is when someone has temporary, situational power over you. For example, if you’re on the phone with an unfriendly customer service representative, as soon as you hang up and call another agent, this representative will no longer have power over you.
Another situation where you might want to think twice about confrontation is when, by putting up with the difficult behavior, you derive a certain benefit. An example of this would be an annoying co-worker, for although you dislike her, she’s really good at providing analysis for your team, so she’s worth the patience. It’s helpful to remember that most difficult people have positive qualities as well, especially if you know how to elicit them (see keys #5 and 6).
In both scenarios, you have the power to decide if a situation is serious enough to confront. Think twice, and fight the battles that are truly worth fighting.
5. Separate the Person From the Issue
Benefits: Establish yourself as a strong problem solver with excellent people skills. Win more rapport, cooperation and respect.
How: In every communication situation, there are two elements present: The relationship you have with this person, and the issue you are discussing. An effective communicator knows how to separate the person from the issue, and be soft on the person and firm on the issue. For example:
“I want to talk about what’s on your mind, but I can’t do it when you’re yelling. Let’s either sit down and talk more quietly, or take a time out and come back this afternoon.”
“I appreciate you putting a lot of time into this project. At the same time, I see that three of the ten requirements are still incomplete. Let’s talk about how to finish the job on schedule.”
“I really want you to come with us. Unfortunately, if you’re going to be late like the last few times, we’ll have to leave without you.”
When we’re soft on the person, people are more open to what we have to say. When we’re firm on the issue, we show ourselves as strong problem solvers.
6. Put the Spotlight on Them
Benefits: Proactive. Equalize power in communication. Apply appropriate pressure to reduce difficult behavior.
How: A common pattern with difficult people (especially the aggressive types) is that they like to place attention on you to make you feel uncomfortable or inadequate. Typically, they’re quick to point out there’s something not right with you or the way you do things. The focus is consistently on “what’s wrong,” instead of “how to solve the problem.”
This type of communication is often intended to dominate and control, rather than to sincerely take care of issues. If you react by being on the defensive, you simply fall into the trap of being scrutinized, thereby giving the aggressor more power while she or he picks on you with impunity. A simple and powerful way to change this dynamic is to put the spotlight back on the difficult person, and the easiest way to do so is to ask questions. For example:
Aggressor: “Your proposal is not even close to what I need from you.”
Response: “Have you given clear thought to the implications of what you want to do?”
Aggressor: “You’re so stupid.”
Response: “If you treat me with disrespect I’m not going to talk with you anymore. Is that what you want? Let me know and I will decide if I want to stay or go.”
Keep your questions constructive and probing. By putting the difficult person in the spotlight, you can help neutralize her or his undue influence over you.
7. Use Appropriate Humor
Benefits: Disarm unreasonable and difficult behavior when correctly used. Show your detachment. Avoid being reactive. Problem rolls off your back.
How: Humor is a powerful communication tool. Years ago I knew a co-worker who was quite stuck up. One day a colleague of mine said “Hello, how are you?” to him. When the egotistical co-worker ignored her greeting completely, my colleague didn’t feel offended. Instead, she smiled good-naturedly and quipped: “That good, huh?” This broke the ice and the two of them started a friendly conversation. Brilliant.
When appropriately used, humor can shine light on the truth, disarm difficult behavior, and show that you have superior composure. In my book (click on title): “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People,” I explain the psychology of humor in conflict resolution, and offer a variety of ways one can use humor to reduce or eliminate difficult behavior.
8. Change from Following to Leading
Benefit: Leverage direction and flow of communication.
How: In general, whenever two people are communicating, one is usually doing more leading, while the other is doing more following. In healthy communication, two people would take turns leading and following. However, some difficult people like to take the lead, set a negative tone, and harp on “what’s wrong” over and over.
You can interrupt this behavior simply by changing the topic. As mentioned earlier, utilize questions to redirect the conversation. You can also say “By the way…” and initiate a new subject. When you do so, you’re taking the lead and setting a more constructive tone.
9. Confront Bullies (Safely)
Benefits: Reduce or eliminate harmful behavior. Increase confidence and peace of mind.
How: The most important thing to keep in mind about bullies is that they pick on those whom they perceive as weaker, so as long as you remain passive and compliant, you make yourself a target. Many bullies are also cowards on the inside. When their victims begin to show backbone and stand up for their rights, the bully will often back down. This is true in schoolyards, as well as in domestic and office environments.
On an empathetic note, studies show that many bullies are victims of violence themselves. This in no way excuses bullying behavior, but may help you consider the bully in a more equanimous light.
“When people don't like themselves very much, they have to make up for it. The classic bully was actually a victim first.” — Tom Hiddleston
“Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.” — Paramhansa Yogananda
“I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It's the bully who's insecure.” — Shay Mitchell
When confronting bullies, be sure to place yourself in a position where you can safely protect yourself, whether it’s standing tall on your own, having other people present to witness and support, or keeping a paper trail of the bully’s inappropriate behavior. In cases of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse, consult with counseling, legal, law enforcement, or administrative professionals on the matter. It’s very important to stand up to bullies, and you don’t have to do it alone.
10. Set Consequence
Benefits: Proactive not reactive. Shift balance of power. Win respect and cooperation when appropriately applied.
How: The ability to identify and assert consequence(s) is one of the most important skills we can use to "stand down" a difficult person. Effectively articulated, consequence gives pause to the challenging individual, and compels her or him to shift from obstruction to cooperation. In “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People,” consequence is presented as seven different types of power you can utilize to affect positive change.
In conclusion, to know how to handle unreasonable and difficult people is to truly master the art of communication. As you utilize these skills, you may experience less grief, greater confidence, better relationships, and higher communication prowess. You are on your way to leadership success!
For more in-depth tools on how to effectively handle difficult individuals, see my books (click on titles): “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People” and “How to Successfully Handle Passive-Aggressive People”.
Source: http://www.nipreston.com/new/publications/Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!
Preston Ni, M.S.B.
20 Expert Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People
We’ve all been there—trying valiantly to reason with an incredibly difficult person. The situation proves frustrating, maddening, and sometimes even frightening. The truth is, you can’t reason with an unreasonable person. However, there are proven techniques to better manage such dicey situations.
I learned the ropes of what’s technically called “verbal de-escalation” from many years working in hospitals. Every year, we’d go through training on how to defuse difficult situations in which a patient, family member, or even another employee was extremely angry and seemingly out of control.
What follows are the tactics that professional crisis intervention teams use, and you can learn them, too. You can use these techniques with your boss, a customer, a family member, even a stranger. Keep in mind: The closer your relationship the person, the more knowledge you’ll have of what will best work to calm things down.
These tips may feel unnatural at first. When you're dealing with a person behaving unreasonably, the fear response center in your brain (the fight-flight-freeze part) is going to be activated. This part of the brain can't distinguish between a customer that's yelling at you or a vicious dog about to attack you. It's up to you to engage your conscious mind in order to defuse the situation. Some of these tips are general, suggesting a mindset to cultivate. Others are more specific in advising you what to do in the moment.
Don’t get defensive. Stay calm, and be aware that you will never win in an argument with an impossible person—he is referred to as "impossible" for a reason. In the impossible person's mind, you are the problem, and nothing you say can convince the person to see your side of the story. He feels that your opinion doesn’t matter because you are guilty, regardless.
Detach, disassociate and defuse. Staying calm in the heat of the moment is paramount to your personal preservation. Spitting angry words, reacting with extreme emotions such as crying, will only stimulate impossible people to do more of the difficult behavior. Don’t take the reactions of impossible people personally, and don’t allow yourself to become emotionally charged in reaction to him or her.
Avoid arguing with them. If possible, don't disagree with impossible people. Find ways to be agreeable or ignore them. Arguing will only get you emotionally invested in the situation and trigger your fight or flight responses. This will make it harder for you to think clearly and respond appropriately.
Ignore them. Impossible people want attention, so once they realize you won’t give them what they want, they will move onto someone else who will react to them. Stay out of their business, out of their way and avoid talking to or about them.
Take a breather. If the person you're talking with is getting on your last nerve, then you need to step away from the immediate situation. He might just want to get a rise out of you, so show him that he has no effect on you. Walking away or handling another task so you can calm down is a good idea.
Be confident. State your views with confidence and look the person in the eye when communicating with her. You do not want to appear weak to one of these people. If you look at the ground or over her shoulder, she could interpret this as weak. You want to be reasonable but not timid.
Adjust your strategy. Sometimes you can’t leave the situation, so treat it like a game. Learn the impossible person’s strategy, and develop counter strategies ahead of time. Eventually you'll find what works and what doesn't, plus you'll probably feel better as you realize you're three steps ahead, outwitting him at every turn. Just remember your ultimate goal is to help free yourself mentally, not become the person's master.
Consider that it might be a question of compatibility. Even if a person seems to get along with everybody else, he could be an impossible person for you. Some people simply clash or don’t get along together well. There may be nothing wrong with either of you but together you just bring out the worst in each other.
Be prepared for emotional mood swings. If you successfully convince an impossible person that he made a mistake, then he may suddenly have an emotional meltdown. Instead of believing he is right all the time, he will decide that if he can't be right now, then he will always be wrong. This is a coping mechanism to elicit sympathy from others.
Preserve your self-esteem. Maintaining a positive self-image in the face of someone who portrays you as a bad person takes effort. Instead of listening to what the impossible person says, focus on the people who validate you and make you feel good. Realize that the impossible person wants to hurt you to make herself feel better.
Consider what you can learn. Impossible people offer valuable life experiences. After dealing with impossible people, you will be able to get along with most other people easier. Try to keep perspective, and realize that what may seem crazy to you may be another person's only way of coping. Try to view these interactions as a way to build strengths such as flexibility, grace, and tolerance.
\Dealing With Personality Types::
Deal with self-important people, complainers or victims. Understand that self-important people just need to feel like people are listening to them. People who complain a lot usually have a lot of internalized anger from unresolved issues, and often also need people to listen. Those who play the victim always have bad things happen to them so that they have an excuse for why they haven't achieved something.
Deal with histrionic and passive-aggressive types. Histrionic personality types live for attention, and will frequently go to great lengths in order to get it. They have to live in the right neighborhood, wear the right clothes and send their kids to the right schools. Passive-aggressive people are often hostile because they don't know how to express their wants and needs effectively.