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How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

November 16th, 2015 · No Comments

It never fails. We all have that one person who, no matter what you do or how hard you try to avoid them, they are always in your space making your work life more difficult.  So what do you do?  You don’t want to risk your position by complaining to your manager.  Then it comes back on you, that maybe you aren’t a “team player” or that you’re unable to solve your own problems.  It’s best to deal with the situation head on.  Here are a few suggestions:

*PLEASE NOTE* If you are being harassed, threatened or bullied – you have every right to go to your boss or HR Director.  In this particular article, “difficult person” would be described as someone who annoys or bothers you for one reason or another.  Not someone maliciously hurting you.

Assess your own behavior. Is there something that you do to trigger this person’s behavior?  Try and maintain a positive, I-can-do-it attitude – even when you’re feeling like your buttons are being pushed.  Keep a list of tasks or duties that need to be completed so you can stay focused.

Talk to the person in private.   This can be tough for some people but honestly, it is the best way to deal with the situation.  Try not to come off too strong – you don’t want them to feel like you’re attacking them because that can just make things worse.  Be pleasant and tell them how you feel.  Make the conversation more about your feelings rather than their behavior, and then ask them what you need from them moving forward.  Sometimes people really aren’t aware of how their behavior affects those around them.

Give it some time. After you have a conversation, give it a couple of weeks and monitor if the situation is improving or not.  It can take some time for someone to really change their behavior, actions or comments.

Follow-up. If you really want to see a change, ask for another private conversation.  At that time, thank them for their effort, but remind them about how you feel and that their behavior needs to change long-term.

Keep track of your conversations and interactions with the difficult person. If you’re dealing with someone with a strong personality, who doesn’t think that there is anything wrong with their behavior, you may have to call in reinforcement.   Talk to your manager (in private of course) about the situation and how you have addressed it.  They may have some additional suggestions on how to deal with this person or be willing to have a conversation with them to help resolve the situation.

Good luck!


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