Rude, obnoxious, negative, gossiper, braggart, back-stabber. Sound like anyone you know? Most of us have had to deal with difficult people like that at some point in our careers. And whether they are a co-worker, boss, client or customer they can make your life miserable. But there are some strategies you can employ to help you deal with these insufferable people in the workplace.
1. Look at Yourself First: Consider what’s going on in your own life. Are you under a lot of stress or dealing with some personal turmoil. Perhaps, you are being overly sensitive and as a result overreacting to the situation.
2. Get Feedback from Others: Review the situation with friends, family members of co-workers who you trust. Ask them for objective feedback on how to deal with the difficult individual.
3. Initiate a Conversation: Talk openly to the individual about what you are experience. Be careful not to place blame, but rather explain how their behavior makes you feel. Use the “I” word. For example: “When you do this, I feel as though you are attacking me.” You may be pleasantly surprised to find the other person is willing to modify his behavior once he becomes aware of the affect.
4. Keep Your Cool: Whatever you do, don’t let the difficult person cause you to lose your cool Maintain control over your feelings. When you allow them to upset you, then you a giving them power over you and as a result it can seriously impact your productivity and attitude.
5. Don’t engage or encourage: Learn to manage conversations with the difficult individual so as not to engage them or encourage the offending behavior. For example, if the person is an obnoxious, braggart or vicious gossiper then learn to change the subject or cut the conversation short.
6. Limit Interaction: Avoid interacting with the individual as much as possible. If the person tends to interrupt your work day, let them know you are busy and find out what the business purpose of their visit is. Keep him/her focused on a business need and don’t allow them to take up your time with anything else.
7. Don’t Make it Personal: Your work environment shouldn’t be your primary social circle. Business is business and friendship is friendship. So keep in mind you don’t have to like someone to work with them in a cordial, professional manner.
8. Report Behavior: If none of the strategies mentioned above help you manage the problem, then report it to your boss or human resources department. If it is a customer or client who has a superior in the workplace, consider approaching their boss if the behavior is inappropriate or abusive. (tread lightly) Be prepared when you speak to someone with specific examples of what you find inappropriate behavior for the workplace Keep it factual so you don’t come off as whiner
9. Transfer: If the problem becomes insurmountable ask for a transfer to another department or another area of the company. That’s more problematic if the individual is a customer or client; however, you may be able to see if there is another person within the organization who can be your primary contact.