Blog Post 1-2-12

Handling difficult people calls for sound strategies

Handling difficult people is tough. (Hey, why do you think they started referring to them as “difficult” to begin with?)

For example, what if you’ve got someone in your workplace who seems paranoid? Or what if the office gossip works within earshot of your cubicle?

You can deal with all this, right?
Sure. But how?

Well, let’s start with 10 tips about handling difficult co-workers from

Identify problem people. Learn to recognize “toxic” workers. “Difficult people,” the site says, “come in all shapes and sizes: Some talk constantly and never listen. Others must always have the last word. Some co-workers fail to keep commitments. Others criticize anything that they did not create themselves. A toxic co-worker can take the form of a cut-you-downer, a two-faced backstabber, a gossip, a meddler, an instigator or a nasty competitor.”

Uh-huh. It all sounds familiar, right?

Beware of bad bosses. Like it or not, you have to get to get along with these people — even the arrogant or controlling jerks who somehow connived their way above you. But if you do end up having to confront your boss, avoid putting her on the defensive. This is a very risky situation.

Assess your situation. If you’re convinced you’re being treated unprofessionally, stop and take a deep breath. Try to understand what is happening to you … and realize that you are not alone.

Take concrete action. Once you’ve fully assessed your situation, odds are you won’t to want to live with it — and leaving it unaddressed usually just lets it get worse. So let whoever you’re battling know that you’re on to them, and that you will take it to a higher authority if necessary.

Don’t let the problem fester. Take action swiftly, or else you’re likely to get so angry that you’ll do something irrational. Better to face things down while you’re still in full control of your emotions.

Safeguard your reputation. Keep complaining and you’re on your way to becoming the office whiner. Managers might wonder why you can’t fix your own problems … which could lead to you getting blamed for other people’s shortcomings.

Don’t sink to their level. No matter how dysfunctional the problem-causer gets, avoid these don’ts: sending anonymous notes or emotional emails, gossiping about the person or bad-mouthing her to the management.

Keep it private. Don’t lose your temper, and don’t get pulled into a confrontation in front of your boss or co-workers.

Make the first move. What if your nemesis is as eager to patch things up as you are? If you open the conversation, you could open the door to a solution … and get the credit for fixing the problem.

Agree to disagree. Even people you disagree with can teach you something. And being open to that type of learning, can set you up as the winner in the long run.

Or agree that you might need a little help. That’s where we come in — contact us if you’d like some expert advice.  Our Conflict Management workshop or individual Coaching services can help you come out on the positive side of the problem.