Courageous Conversations: Dealing with Difficult People

 Michele Alston, MA,  is the author of this blog and a facilitator at the 2019 LIVE Instructor-led Supervisory Academy. This blog supports her session titled “Courageous Conversations: Dealing with Difficult People.”

We’ve all been there—trying valiantly to reason with an incredibly difficult person. The situation proves frustrating, maddening, and sometimes even frightening. The truth is, you can’t reason with an unreasonable person. In every workplace, you will have difficult co-workers. Dealing with difficult co-workers, bosses, customers, clients, and friends is a skill worth perfecting. Dealing with difficult situations at work is challenging, yet rewarding.  Fortunately, in most workplaces, you spend the majority of your days dealing with the normal, everyday employee in the office. But, in the event that a coworker is a difficult person, you’ll need additional skills in your interpersonal skills arsenal.

Difficult people are found in nearly every single workplace. They come in every conceivable variety that you can imagine. Some talk constantly and never listen. Others must always have the last word. Some coworkers fail to keep commitments. Others criticize anything that they did not create. Difficult co-workers compete with you for power, privilege and the spotlight; some are excessive in courting the boss’ positive opinion—to your detriment.

Some co-workers attempt to undermine you and you constantly feel as if you need to watch your back. Your boss plays favorites; people form cliques and leave you out; someone tells you that colleagues are speaking about you behind your back. Difficult people and situations, such as these, exist in every workplace.

It really doesn’t matter which variety they are but how difficult a person is for you to deal with depends a lot on such factors as your self-esteem, your self-confidence, how closely you must work with him or her on a daily basis, and your professional courage.  Dealing with difficult people is easier when the person is just generally obnoxious or when the behavior affects more than one person. You can team together to address the behavior or inform management to get help addressing the employee issue before it spirals into negativity.

You can vastly improve your own work environment and morale when you increase your ability to deal with the people at work. You also make your workplace a better environment for all employees when you address the problems that a difficult coworker is causing for the team.

The success in dealing with difficult people comes from understanding how we behave, as well as how we can influence others. If you approach difficult topics in one or a series of conversations, and you approach those conversations with a plan, you will find that you have fewer issues to deal with.

In this workshop, you will learn what a working definition of a difficult person is and understand that people are not their behavior. It’s not the person; it is the behavior. You will also learn about how to deal with difficult people through managing difficult people.  We will discuss several formula and techniques and how to apply those techniques to make your life less stressful and able to manage those difficult people.

If you want to learn more about this topic, register here for the 2019 LIVE Instructor-led Supervisory Academy and register for “Courageous Conversations: Dealing with Difficult People”.

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