Dealing With Difficult People

If I had a dollar for every client that asks me for the secret to dealing with difficult people I would be rich….. not just because of all the dollars I would have received but because I had the magic secret.

The truth is difficult people are everywhere and it is very likely that we ourselves are difficult people for others.

Managing relationships is fundamental to a successful work life. People love to psycho-analyse others by labelling them difficult co-workers. If you aren’t qualified to make these assessments then I’d highly recommend you stop. Knowing if someone has trust issues from childhood or is a narcissist are outside your remit in the workplace.

What you can spend your energy on is finding ways to manage those that are difficult.

As Tony Schwartz succinctly states “The painful truth when it comes to the people who trigger you is this: You’re not going to change them. The only person you have the possibility of changing is yourself.”

The pull to emotional responses with those that we find difficult is high and it’s important to remember the foundational principles of relationships and communication.

  1. What are the facts of the situation?
  2. What is the “other” perspective in which this situation can be viewed? What is their lens on this situation?
  3. Is this an important issue for me to really confront? How might I view this situation in a week or a months time?
  4. Ask yourself about the assumptions you are making in regard to this situation and how you may have contributed.

Finding a way to control your own reactive behaviour when you are triggered, establish trust and address the personal needs of the other, brings many of us a long way closer to managing difficult people.

In this episode of the Fast Track podcast, Michelle Bagnall, Chief Executive Officer, RACQ Bank and I talked about this exact topic. Her insights from first hand experiences of dealing with difficult people are definitely worth listening to. So if you are finding yourself struggling with difficult people in your workplace, take 15 minutes of your day to listen.

And remember, whatever you do, make good choices.