Getting Along with Difficult People

There is not a job in the world where you won’t encounter a difficult person.  People come in all shapes and sizes and most importantly, personalities.  Some personalities work well together, while others can be challenging to say the least.  You cannot reason with an unreasonable person, but you can use certain techniques to mitigate the situation.  Determining how to deal with the various types of personalities is the key to a successful business relationship.

Tips for Dealing with Challenging People

The challenging personalities you may encounter in the workplace can be from employees, co-workers, contractors, or even customers.  Difficult people can be characterized as perfectionists, control freaks, aggressive, know-it-alls, and even submissive.  These personality traits can be positive in certain instances in the work place, but they can also be traits that clash with others. Here are some tips to help deescalate difficult situations with difficult people:

Listen – The best thing you can do in any difficult situation is to listen.  Give the person a chance to be heard and feel acknowledged.  Try to focus on their point of view and their feelings in the moment and don’t spend time thinking about what you want to say next.

Respect – Always provide a level of respect, regardless of the respect you may be given in the heat of the moment.  We have all been there and we all know that emotions can get the best of us.   Showing anger or retaliation during a discussion will only make things worse. 

Calm – Stay calm during the discussion and that will help to ensure that it stays reasonable.  Emotions can cause erratic behavior and by taking a few breaths, you can keep the conversation respectable.

Investigate – While the person is talking, consider what their motive truly is in the given situation.  Determine if they are trying to avoid something or if they have something to gain by their disagreement.

Be Inquisitive – When you are surrounded by difficult or negative people, they tend to complain.  Listening to their complaints is part of the process, but one way to help minimize the complaints is to ask how they would propose to fix the issue they are so adamant about discussing in a negative manner.

Don’t Forget – If you are dealing with difficult people, you must be able to forgive attitudes and comments and move forward.  Being the bigger person in the situation will always work in your favor.  However, don’t forget certain behaviors and interactions from that individual in the future.  Avoid putting yourself in toxic situations that will cause a repeat of a past behavior.

Rise Above – Remember that someone’s poor character shouldn’t cause you to stoop to their level.  The old saying of “treat others as you would like to be treated” is very important in the business world.  Regardless of how you are treated, always stay respectful and proper when addressing co-workers and customers.  Do not respond to them emotionally and get involved in their negative behavior.

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