What Everyone Should Know About Dealing with Difficult People at Work

By on October 29, 2013

You’re more likely to handle a problem with a family member or close friend differently to a work colleague. Nevertheless, from a personal development perspective there are some common strategic elements in terms of communicating pro-actively with all of them that should be kept in mind:

1.   Stay calm. Remain cool, calm and polite. In the overall scheme of things it’s likely this person will actually appreciate that you’re remaining patient with them and will contribute to finding a quicker resolution.

2.   Don’t point the finger. Rather than placing the blame on the other person, adopt the attitude that neither of you are to blame for the problem. Practice expressing your opinion without resorting to arguments. The peace gained here will then allow you to gain much greater clarity about the situation than would otherwise likely be possible.

3.   Give them the benefit of the doubt. Try to identify the fundamental cause or trigger as to what’s causing them to behave like this. What is preventing them from cooperating with you? Finally, don’t discount the possibility they may just be having a bad day.

4.   Encourage positivity. Aside from being difficult, they will no doubt have some positive aspects, which you should try and bring out.

5.   See the humorous side. Finding the humor in the current situation can help you both relax and be more receptive to seeking out and identifying a promising solution.

6.   Decide what’s fixable. Acknowledge the current situation (however bad it is) then focus on the actionable steps that need to be taken and by whom in order to remedy the situation.

7.   Seek input from others. Another person may be able to show you a fresher approach by approaching the situation from another perspective and mindset.

Difficult people are a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean that the way you deal with them always needs to be difficult too. Try these tips with difficult people you face in your workplace or outside and see how you get on. Let us know your experiences by posting a comment below.

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  1. Kelly

    November 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Dealing with people at work can be different for everyone. I agree that you need to stay calm and all the other points you hit here as well. Sometimes you don’t have the opportunity to seek others opinions especially if you’re the boss. For me I usually seek other friend’s (business professionals) opinions. Any other suggestions for me would be great.

  2. Troy Mieglich

    February 24, 2014 at 3:36 am

    It’s always a tough one – indeed everyone deals with it differently, but I can certainly recommend everyone cooling off before they use any choice words! Keep it diplomatic and you won’t regret anything.

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