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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dealing With Difficult People

Do you find yourself dealing with a difficult person at work? I believe every workplace has drama...a difficult person or two that just makes being in the office exhausting.

You may find a difficult person acts in many different ways. They may just be generally obnoxious, affect more than one person, might attack you or undermine your reputation at work. Some talk constantly, the never ending gossiper that brings other people into the situation. Maybe they don't keep their work commitments and in turn, affect you. Do they make false allegations against you to a manager, just to gain a boss's positive opinion or are they fighting for more power or privilege?

Some difficult people always undermine you, which makes you feel as though you constantly have to watch your back. Some form cliques and leave you out, wanting you to feel as though you are powerless and alone.

Whatever situation a difficult person is creating, I think it needs to be addressed and not be ignored. If you chose to let it be, the constant conflict at work will not get will only get worse.

If you find yourself in continual conflict and unable to handle the situation, you may be the one labeled as the difficult person. If you constantly just complain, your boss may see you as the one that is unprofessional and not able to handle a difficult situation, so he may consider replacing you.

Some ways to deal with a difficult person:

Ask yourself if you are the one who may be overreacting to the situation. Are you taking things too personal?
Make sure you are focusing on the person's actions, not on the person themselves.

Ask a trusted friend or co-worker to look at the situation from an objective view. Sometimes we can't see things clear while in an emotional situation. Ask for help to find ways to address the problem you are facing.

Ask the person to have a private conversation and discuss the experience. Starting each sentence with "I"...I feel this way...or I feel like... if starting the discussion with "YOU", it may come across as an attack. It may turn out the other person didn't realize how he or she was coming across or how you were interpreting the experience. Try to reach a positive agreement and move forward.

If you've made an attempt and did all you felt you could, then you can consider going to your boss. This will escalate the situation, but if you have had no success, this may be the next step. Stick to the issues at hand. Do not bring up personal issues you have with this person. Keep notes

You can also try to limit yourself from this person. Protect yourself, but protect the needs of the business.Do not hurt yourself in the process, but avoidance is an option.

If all else fails, you can consider leaving your position. You may ask WHY? I wasn't the problem, but you have to weigh the good with the bad. If the bad wins, leaving your present employment might be the only solution in terms of success and well being.

Have you come across a difficult person in your office? How did you handle the situation?


Anonymous said...

Great post, my friend.

I know you well, and I know that this topic rings true to your heart.

And I know how these situations can change not only the work environment in general, but the way we subconsciously feel about ourselves when we are either getting ready to go to work, or then being at work, or then again after work. The weight can be heavy, and the adversity is a waste of our time and energy. It is truly uncalled for, but seems to be human nature for many people out there. Having others making a bad (or rumored) situation worse is so counter-productive. But sometimes, it seems, that others find some type of satisfaction out of it all, and at our expense.

You had a post on one of your other blog sites about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (I think at, of which I suffered the symptoms of a decade ago. There were many factors that were attributable to my condition, but the major one was dealing with (actually not properly dealing with) the adverse people around me at work. I quit that profession to get away from it all, and luckily ended up all the happier. That was a very, very tough decision, and a TOTAL LEAP OF FAITH, but it was worth it in the long run for me.

One thing I learned from what happened to me was that it was 'their baggage', and not mine. And inasmuch as one should not ignore the situation, and your post appropriately discusses steps to deal with it in a rational manner, it helps to be able to remove oneself from other peoples 'baggage', and not get dragged into their own demise. I can attest to you that the 'objective view from co-workers', or better yet, from close friends, also helps a great deal as they are removed (even if only slightly) from the emotions of the situation, and may be able to help clear some of the clouds in one's mind. Clear vision is a wonderful feeling.

The un-attacking 'private conversation' also is a good idea, i.e. if you have a problem with me, have the courage to confront and talk directly to me. Weak people seem to look to others to squeal to, and then hide behind. Be direct, but not confrontational. I know, that can be a difficult balance for many of us. But if you never try it, you will never know if you are any good at it.

Interesting too, is that people with similar character traits will congregate together. Could be: the whiners; (and/or the winers, haha); or the humbles; or the intellectuals; or the power junkies; etc. Look around over the next couple of days and see if I am off base. I think not.

Ostriches actually put their heads in the sand because they are trying to find water. True story! You, on the other hand, should be looking for serenity and pride. Don't be an ostrich..... keep your head up.

Hye said...

Hi AC.. thanks for the tips. You shared another great post today ;D

Hye of Space of Reality

free4ever said...

Great post; however, it's very difficult in handling that kind of a situation as a 'new' employee. Being a new employee, you're already under the microscope, and I've experienced that it's not always wise to make waves. Sometimes as a new employee on probation, you have to swallow a lot of 'untasty' things. But, it depends upon the company, the atmosphere in the office, and the open-mindedness of your superiors. Departments know exactly who the trouble makers are, and sometimes watch to see how the 'newbies' will handle them. Also, it seems like the 'trouble-makers' are the ones who possess the 'longevity'. So, great post...lots of good suggestions.

AC Associates said...

hey there anonymous,
Just (finally) getting to my responses. Yes, this post is one that rings close to home. Difficult people it seems made a situation even more difficult,but I came up with a solution and it is working beautifully. All people involved are on board with my plan. We now are in a stress free atmosphere and management can no longer blame all involved for any mistakes or situations that arise in the office.
I didn't exactly want to be the one to extend the hand, but sometimes the one who can benefit must take some kind of action.

Thanks Hye for stopping by and for your kinds words.

Hello free4ever
Thanks for visiting and for the compliment.
You are right. As a new employee the work atmosphere might already be one of stress. It is better not to cause waves. Sitting back, being friendly and observing might be the best until the newness wears off.
Each office atmosphere is different and you must act acordingly.
You are also right in saying that a new employee might have to handle some situations that otherwise he or she might not want to. Sometimes swallowing some pride or keeping silent will reward you.