Ever encountered someone who frustrates you so much that you feel like you want to pull your hair, jump around the room and just scream out loud? You’re not alone.Over the years, I’ve encountered my fair share of difficult people. People who don’t turn their work in as promised, people who don’t show up for meetings, people who stick vehemently to their views and refuse to collaborate, people who push back on work that they’re responsible for – and more. Even as I run my own business, I work on collaboration projects and there are times where there are difficulties in getting a consensus because everyone is so firm in their views.
Years ago, I used to get bothered and worked up over such situations. I’d think, “Why are these people being so difficult?”, “These people are so irresponsible!”, “Just my luck to work with them” or “I don’t ever want to work with these people again!”.
After a while, I learned that these people are everywhere. No matter where you go, you can never hide from them. Sure, it might be possible to avoid the 1st one or two difficult people, but how about the 3rd, 5th, 10th person you encounter? Hiding isn’t a permanent solution. What’s more, in the context of work, it’s usually difficult to avoid or hide from someone, unless you quit from a job totally. Well – I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t seem feasible to quit every time someone has an opposing view or is being difficult.
So rather than turn to some drastic decisions each time, why not equip yourself with the skills to deal with them?
Here’s 9 tips which I’ve found to work in dealing with such people:
- Be calm.
Losing your temper and flaring out at the other person typically isn’t the best way to get him/her to collaborate with you. Unless you know that anger will trigger the person into action and you are consciously using it as a strategy to move him/her, it is better to assume a calm persona.
Someone who is calm is seen as being in control, centered and more respectable. Would you prefer to work with someone who is predominantly calm or someone who is always on edge? When the person you are dealing with sees that you are calm despite whatever he/she is doing, you will start getting their attention.
- Understand the person’s intentions.
I’d like to believe that no one is difficult for the sake of being difficult. Even when it may seem that the person is just out to get you, there is always some underlying reason that is motivating them to act this way. Rarely is this motivation apparent. Try to identify the person’s trigger: What is making him/her act in this manner? What is stopping him/her from cooperating with you? How can you help to meet his/her needs and resolve the situation?
- Get some perspective from others.
In all likelihood, your colleagues, managers and friends must have experienced similar situations in some way or another. They will be able to see things from a different angle and offer a different take on the situation. Seek them out, share your story and listen to what they have to say. You might very well find some golden advice in amidst of the conversation.
Don’t stop now. We are just getting going and there are more useful workplace strategies ahead.