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9 tips for dealing with difficult people at work

It’s impossible to go through life without coming across challenging people. In the workplace, which can be competitive and stressful, people are often not at their best and can be difficult to deal with. If you find yourself in a situation with someone who isn’t behaving well there are a number of different strategies you can use to cope.

  1. Focus on empathy. It’s difficult to do if someone is really pushing your buttons but being empathetic is actually a powerful response. It enables you to understand why someone is behaving as they are and what their triggers might be, which will also make it easier to find a positive solution for you both.
  2. Talk to other people. Whether it’s the same person you’re struggling with, or someone similar, it’s likely that your friends, family and colleagues will also have experience of difficult people at work. Talking, sharing and asking for advice can be effective ways to help you cope.
  3. Be respectful. No matter how much someone else aggravates you, staying respectful will always help in terms of your responses. If you become disrespectful then the situation can only escalate, leaving both sides without a way back to a positive place.
  4. Don’t be triggered. Staying calm and in control will not only reflect well on you in terms of the way you’re handling the situation but will also make it easier for a resolution to be found.
  5. Try to communicate better. Often, issues arise between two people because intentions are being misunderstood. Start by clearly communicating what you’re trying to achieve and where you’re coming from so that there is no confusion in terms of what is being said and done. Understanding can create empathy on both sides and pave the way for a solution.
  6. Connect in person. Whether it’s the individual you’ve been struggling with, or other colleagues in general, it’s important to spend time connecting face-to-face. If you only ever communicate by email or messaging it’s easy for the personal touch to get lost.
  7. What action steps will resolve the situation? If emotions are running high and things have become personal, sometimes it can help to focus purely on practicalities and what needs to be done in terms of action.
  8. Rise above it. If you’ve tried all of the above and someone is still being difficult then it might be worth taking a step back and not responding. This can give the other person time to cool off and consider what they want from the situation, especially if they’ve been lashing out.
  9. Ask for help. Unfortunately, some professional situations do get out of hand and you may not be able to diffuse a conflict on your own. An immediate superior or manager should be able to step in and help to find ways to resolve the situation.

It’s never easy dealing with difficult people at work. However, there are lots of different options when it comes to the strategies that you choose to use to cope. Find out more by signing up to our Dealing with Difficult People training course.

In-House Training with PTP

PTP stands for Practical Training for Professionals and our aim is to make our training as practical as possible so delegates can return to the workplace with skills they can implement immediately. PTP now delivers training to over 40% of the FTSE 100.

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What is 1-to-1 training?

1-to-1 training can be based on any of the 100 plus courses that PTP provides, it includes an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site one to one training session at your premises with one of PTP's expert trainers and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

You have the option of a line manager being involved in both telephone conferences, the second telephone conference which can be for feedback and action planning is generally scheduled during the on-site visit.

Who does 1-to-1 training suit?

Individuals taking on a new challenge or responsibilities. Professionals who want a trusted "sounding board" and thinking partner. Executives or managers who want to enhance their leadership effectiveness to achieve organizational and career success. Executives and professionals wanting to compete successfully but still retain balance in their life. Individuals who want to understand their blind spots so that they don't stand in their own way on their path to success. Executives and Professionals who want to improve their interpersonal skills so as to be more effective with bosses, peers, subordinates, or people in general. How much does 1-to-1 training cost?

A 1-to-1 training session costs from as little as £400 + VAT and will include an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site training at your premises and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

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Choose from any of the 150 plus courses that PTP provides, and choose from 1 of our 50 plus UK wide training venues. You must book for 2 or more delegates and at least 4 weeks in advance, but that’s it, the course you want where you want it. The reason we ask for a minimum of 4 weeks notice is to enable us to market the course you have scheduled to other companies and organisations. However, if we fail to sell any additional places we guarantee to run the course just for you.

How much does U-Choose Training cost?

U-choose costs the same as our normal open courses i.e. the normal delegate rate. This includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day, framed certification and comprehensive training notes. A U-Choose booking can only be confirmed once we receive payment which can be made via credit/debit card, BACS or cheque. Payment is due at least 4 weeks before the date you request. Please note to be eligible for U-Choose you must book a minimum of 2 delegates on the same course & date.