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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.