How to deal with difficult people in workplace


Difficult people are everywhere. They come in every variety and no workplace you will find without them. Dealing with difficult person is easier when their behavior affects more than one person. It became tough when they are attacking you or underestimating your professional contribution.

“In life, we will always encounter difficult people. Don’t allow them to frustrate you or steal your joy”

Difficult people verities: Some talk constantly and never listen. Other must always have the last word. Some of coworkers fail to keep commitments. Other start criticizing anything they did not create. Hope sound familiar with your workplace. If yes then please carry on. It must noticed by you that difficult coworkers compete with you for power, privilege and spotlight; some way too far in courting the boss’s positive opinions to your detriment.
Do you want to stop to ruin your day by those difficult people surrounding your work place?

Here is some very simple and practical guide for you to deal with difficult people at your workplace.

Requesting to keep in mind that these all are general rule of thumb. You have to choose and apply according to the situation at your workplace best fit the difficult person on the opposite side.
Another thing, how difficult a person is for you to deal with depends on your self-esteem, self-confidence and obviously your professional courage.

1. Be cool and pause for some time

How: This is the first rule in the face of a difficult person is to maintain your composure. You can use your better judgment when you stay less reactive in the situation.
When you feel angry or upset with someone, before you say something you might regret later. Try following “STOP” method to cool down.
Stop whatever you’re doing
Take 3 deep breaths
Observe how your body feels
Proceed with kindness and compassion
No matter how much challenging situation you are facing, this pause will help you to disconnect the emotional reaction that is primed to take over heat of the moment.
Advantages: With this method you can able to maintain self-control and avoid escalation of the problem.

“Every time you are able to find some humor in a difficult situation, you win”

2. Being Proactive from reactive:

How: When you feel offended by someone behavior or words; try to come up with multiple ways of viewing the situation before you react. Widening the perspective on the situation can reduce the possibility of misunderstanding.
Generally when you are be tempted to think that your co-worker is ignoring you , consider he/she may be little bit busy with his/her own problem.
Another way to minimize the personalization is to put yourself in the difficult individual’s shoes, even for just a moment.
Like, consider the difficult person you’re dealing with and complete the sentence with “It must not be so easy…”
My boss is really demanding. It must not be easy to have such high expectations placed on her performance by management…”
But ensure that your empathetic statement don’t excuse an unacceptable behavior. Please remember that people do what they do because of their own issue. By de-personalizing you can able to view the situation more objectively, proactively which ultimately will help to solve the problem.
Advantages: This method will definitely help you to minimize misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Also you can concentrate your inner positive energy on problem solving.


3. Fly like an Eagle:

How: Difficult people can often draw you into a field of negativity .You time is precious. So unless there’s something important that matter you, don’t waste it trying to change or convince the person who’s negatively entrenched. A toxic exchange can leave you feeling physically depleted and emotionally exhausted. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone. There’s no need to martyr yourself on the relationship battleground.
“You can’t fly like an Eagle if you hang out with turkeys!”
Whether you are dealing with a difficult people be diplomatic and apply the methods when you need to interact with them. Rest of the time keeps a healthy distance. This isn’t about winning or losing. Remember it’s all about stepping away from a negative situation that’s dampening your spirit.
Advantages: Help to reduce friction and give you more peaceful mind and life.


deal with difficult people

4. Extract the issue from the person:

How: When you deal with the difficult people, in every communication there are two elements present. One is the relationship you have with the person. Second one is the issue you are discussing with him/her.
As an effective communicator you should separate the person from the issue first. Be soft on the person and firm focus on the issue.
Likewise: “I appreciate your effort and time into this project. At the same time, I find that two out of ten requirements are still pending. Let’s talk about how to finish the assignment as per schedule.”
Remember when you are soft on people, how much he / she is a difficult type of nature, he /she will more open to what have to say.
Advantages: Help to set up you as a strong problem solver with excellent people management skills. Build your rapport, earn coöperation and respect from others.

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience”

– Mark Twain

5. Choose your battles wisely:

How: In reality not all difficult people you face need direct confrontation about their behavior. Generally two scenarios happen under which you need to decide not to get involve.
The first one is someone has temporary, situational power over you. As an example, if you’re on the phone with an unfriendly customer service executive, as soon as you hang up and start next call to another agent, this executive will no longer have power over you.
The second situation where you may think twice about confrontation is when, by putting up with difficult behavior, you derive a certain benefit for your own. For example a difficult co-worker of you, to whom you most dislike, will give you a good analysis of data you need.
So think accordingly to choose the battles that truly worth fighting.
Advantages: Help to save your time, energy and grief by avoiding unnecessary complications.

“Convincing people they’re wrong is difficult.
Giving them the means to do what they’re already doing a little bit better is easier”


6. Sometime ask your needs with aggressive communication:

How: Basically the common character of difficult people (especially the aggressive types) is that they like to place attention on you to make you feel uncomfortable or inadequate. They try to focus always on “what’s wrong,” instead of “how to solve the problem.” They’re quick pointing out there’s something not right with you or the way you follow to make the things happen.
Originally this type of communication is often intended to dominate and control, rather to take care of issues. Here if you play defensive role then you will simply fall in the trap of being scrutinized as you give the upper hand to he/she.
A useful way to handle the situation is to ask question in assertive and diplomatic way.
For example: “Your assignment is not even close to what I need from you”
Your reply: “Have you given clear thought to the implication of what you want to do?”
“You are so stupid.”
Your reply: “If you treat me with disrespect I’m not going to talk with you anymore. Is that what you want?
Advantages: Help to apply proper pressure to reduce difficult behavior.


7. Mind your own behavior and use proper humor:

How: Do you face continuous attack from the people at your work place? Then check once your behavior as you are attracting them to attack you always. If you are overly negative, pessimistic people might flock to you.
Another thing, humor is very much important and powerful communication tool. When you use it appropriately then it can shine light on the truth.
So try to find people who are engaged in positive behaviors.

Advantages: Help to recognize your own strength and weakness and how you can equip to handle in future .Applying humor actually disarm unreasonable and difficult behavior and stop the problem to roll back. Win cooperation and respect.

“I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.”


8. Become leader from follower:

How: In real world, when two people are communicating, one is usually more leading while the other is doing more following. So now think what you are doing during the communication in your workplace.
In a healthy communication the both people should turns leading and following. But in case of difficult people they always try to take lead and repeatedly use a negative tone like “what’s wrong”.
I will suggest you to interrupt this behavior simply change the topics. You can start interruption by saying “by the way …” and start a new subject. Now you just take the lead and set more constructive tone.
Advantages: Balance the communication and flow it properly.


9. Approach the difficult person for a private discussion:

How: Talk directly with the coworker about what you are experiencing for his/her behavior. They may not be aware of the impact of their words or action on you. They may have to consider and face a pattern in their own interaction with people.
In worst case they may know their impact on you and deny sitting with you for discussion. Then just try to explain away.
Unfortunately there are some difficult person just don’t care.
Advantages: Help to give a clear message and may be reached in an agreement about positive and supportive actions going forward.

10. Set you mind as there will always be difficult people

How: No matter where you work with what designation / level, you will meet people who seem likely they are out to hurt others. You need to just set your mind and learn to know how to deal with these sorts of people. Because they are impossible to avoid, it may help you to find some of the different types of difficult people so you can decide the best way to interact with them.
Advantages: Help to pre-equip mindset to tackle the difficult situation.

“Be thankful for the difficult people in your life, for they have shown you exactly who you do not want to be”

In conclusion, you can apply any of the above as per the situation and improve your own skill to deal with such difficult people in workplace. This will lead you towards leadership success.

Happy tuning..!!

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Sudipta Kr Maiti
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Sudipta Kr Maiti

Founder at Tune Up Success
Sudipta Kr Maiti-An Engineer- a father-a common man-with -common-life experience- the mind behind Tune Up Success. Want to inspire you with simplicity and openness and promise to enhance your efficiency and capabilities towards success. Welcome, Happy Tuning..!!
Sudipta Kr Maiti
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