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9 Useful Strategies to Dealing with Difficult People at Work

Get some perspective from others

In all likelihood, your colleagues, managers and friends must have experienced similar situations in some way or another. They will be able to see things from a different angle and offer a different take on the situation. 

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9 Useful Strategies to Dealing with Difficult People at Work

9 Useful Strategies to Dealing with Difficult People at Work

https://www.businessinsider.com/9-useful-strategies-to-dealing-with-difficult-people-at-work-2011-6

businessinsider.com

9

Key Ideas

Be calm

Someone who is calm is seen as being in control, centered and more respectable. 

Unless you know that anger will trigger the person into action and you are consciously using it as a strategy to move him/her, it is better to assume a calm persona.

Understand the person's intentions

Even when it may seem that the person is just out to get you, there is always some underlying reason that is motivating them to act this way. 

Try to identify the person's trigger: What is making him/her act in this manner? What is stopping him/her from cooperating with you? How can you help to meet his/her needs and resolve the situation?

Get some perspective from others

In all likelihood, your colleagues, managers and friends must have experienced similar situations in some way or another. They will be able to see things from a different angle and offer a different take on the situation. 

Where you are coming from

Letting them in on the reason behind your actions and the full background of what is happening will enable them to empathize with your situation. 

This lets them get them on-board much easier.

Build a rapport

Connect with your colleagues on a personal level. Go out with them for lunches or dinners. Get to know them as people, and not colleagues. Learn more about their hobbies, their family, their lives. Foster strong connections. These will go a long way in your work.

Treat the person with respect

If you are going to treat the person with disrespect, it's not going to be a surprise if he/she treats you the same.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Focus on what can be actioned upon

Acknowledge that the situation has already occurred. 

Rather than harp on what you cannot change, focus on the actionable steps you can take to forward yourself in the situation.

Ignore

If you have already tried everything and the person is still not being receptive, the best way might be to just ignore.

Get on your daily tasks and interface with the person only where needed. 

Escalate to a higher authority

When all else fails, escalate to your manager. 

This is considered the trump card and shouldn't be used unless you've completely exhausted your means. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Don’t try to fix the difficult person

Accept them exactly as they are. 

Accept that they are unable to change, at least at this point in time. Unless you see real change — proof that this person is making an effort&nb...

Be present and direct

Try to avoid getting into a fight-or-flight response, which inevitably leads to becoming defensive

  • Be direct and assertive when you express yourself. 
  • Stay focused on how you respond. 
  • Know when the discussion or argument has accelerated to the point of no return. If it gets to this point, stop the interaction, and leave the conversation.
Encourage difficult people to express themselves

Let them fully state their point of view about the issue/conflict/problem without interruption. What do they feel people misunderstand about them? What do they want or expect from others? 

The idea is to remain as neutral as possible. Just listening may be enough to allow someone to feel like they have the opportunity to say what’s on their mind. 

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Develop Your Self-awareness
  • Learn to manage your own emotions. 
  • Practice noticing your feelings, thoughts, and behavior--your triggers. Document things as they com...
Be Assertive and Set Boundaries

An assertive person takes full responsibility for herself and her actions. 

  • Seek self-control, be fair and reasonable, take on the part of the problem that belongs to you, and keep the rest of the problem where it belongs--with the difficult person.
  • Set limits and stand up for yourself so others won't take advantage. 
  • Use "I" statements, not "you" statements (these tend to lead to attack and blame).
Listen
  • Give the difficult person a chance to finish without interrupting. 
  • Ask clarifying questions if confused, and use paraphrasing and mirroring to check the accuracy of hearing.
  • Acknowledge the other person's feelings. So, if the other person is angry, say, "You must be feeling very frustrated..."

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Identifying Difficult People
  • The Perfectionist. If you are looking for quick results, perfectionists can be a source of frustration.
  • Control freaks. When you want to do th...
Identifying the Issue

Turn the situation inward and analyze your triggers and reactions to these situations. 

  • How do you react to a difficult person in your life?
  • How does your difficult person react to your reactions?
  • If the other person is the problem, are you growing unhealthy actions and reactions in response to him or her?
  • Are you the difficult person driving others to reactive behavior?
  • How do others react to your actions and responses?
Mitigating These Situations

Separate the facts from your assumptions. 

Separate yourself and your reactions from the negative emotions you may be feeling in the moment. 

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Understand the situation

Complaining about a difficult work situation will not make it go away. Try to understand the situation, and find a way to understand and accept your colleagues.

People’s characters ...

Learn how to accept criticism

Sometimes it can help us identify weaknesses we didn’t know we had.

Analyze it and take what is helpful from it. If you find it is meaningless bitterness, disregard it immediately.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

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4 different types of difficult people
  • The Downers (the Negative Nancys): almost impossible to please, they always have something bad to say. They complain, critique and judge. 
  • The Know It Alls: The...
Disengaging difficult personalities

Don't try changing people, try understanding them.

When you try to change someone they tend to resent you, dig in their heels, and get worse. The way to disengage a difficult person is to try understanding where they are coming from.

Finding The Value Language

When trying to understand difficult people, search for their value language.

A value language is what someone values most. It is what drives their decisions. For some people it is money; for others, it is power or knowledge.

What Vulnerability Really Is

Vulnerability is consciously choosing to freely express your thoughts, feelings, desires, and opinions regardless of what others might think of you.

Vulnerability is showing your rough edges ...

Accept who you are

When someone admits they are bad at something, they will probably be more respected.

Accept who you are, faults and all.

Taking responsibility

When you take responsibility for your problems, you're in control of the solution. When you blame others, you’re handing over control to someone else. And you cannot control them.

Taking up responsibility shows that you accept reality for what it is and set out to work with what you have. 

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Know your facts
How many times have you made a claim about some piece of trivia only to realize, as soon as you’ve made that claim, that you’re completely wrong?

Stop and think before you make such errors, and y...

Switch perspectives
Stepping into the mindset of those you argue with allows you to figure out what’s influencing them. 

Showing empathy will lower the temperature of the debate and allow both of you to come to a resolution.

Try to appear open-minded

If you appear to be giving the other side’s position a thoughtful review, then the solution you propose will seem to be far more sensible. Furthermore, your opponent may come to your side without you having to do anything other than listening.

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2. Mind Your Tone

We tend to respond to people using the same tone they use to speak to us.

If you need to have an emotionally charged conversation, speak in a way that's calm and collected. And ...

3. Mute

Sharing your opinion when others are aggravated can be counterproductive. If things get emotional, and you can’t leave, you may need to stop talking and let them express their feelings.

Breathe deeply and remember that moods are temporary. And that their words at this point may be extreme or exaggerated; resist the urge to respond in kind. Often, once they let everything out, they'll calm down. 

4. Record

Recording is concentrated listening, with the intent to learn more about another's perspective. You're not trying to figure out how to reply; instead, you're listening to understand.

As you tune into another, don't judge or offer advice. Instead, focus on learning more about how the other person sees you, how they see themselves, and how they see the situation.

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A Zen Parable
There was a man riding on a horse. When a man walking on the road asks him where he is going, the rider replies, “Why are you asking me? You should ask the horse.”

The ho...

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions. -Salovey and Mayer (1990)

Emotional Mastery

It manifests itself in the kind of statements we make about ourselves, in relation to our emotional skills and success.

Qualities such as confidence, awareness and optimism, come under the umbrella of emotional intelligence. 

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Constructive Criticism

It's often the only way we learn about our weaknesses and without it, we can’t improve. When we’re defensive, we run the risk of missing out on this important insight.

Feedback’s not...

Stop Your First Reaction

At the first sign of criticism, before you do anything—stop. Try not to react at all.

Even a few seconds are enough for your brain to process a situation:  you can halt a dismissive facial expression or reactive quip and remind yourself to stay calm.

Remember the Benefits of Getting Feedback

Namely, to improve your skills, work product, and relationships, and to help you meet the expectations that your manager and others have of you.

Also, try to cut back any reaction you're having to the person who is delivering the feedback, even if it's hard to receive criticism from someone you don't fully respect.

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