Learn what a difficult person is and find out how to navigate the turbulent waters at work with someone who gets on your nerves!
What we’ll see in this article
Difficult Person at Work
At some point in our professional lives, we’ve all come across that person who seems to have come into the world just to test our patience.
But what do we do when we need to work in partnership with this person?
Below, we’ll decipher this dilemma and give you some valuable tips for dealing with a difficult person in the team!
Understanding the “Difficult Person” profile
You know that colleague who always has a criticism on the tip of his tongue? Or the one who is never satisfied? Understanding that everyone has their own history and traumas is the first step to understanding a difficult person.
- Empathy in action: Before you judge, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Perhaps she’s going through a difficult time or has a reason for doing so.
- Identify the trigger: By identifying what triggers the person’s difficult behavior, you can avoid or better prepare for these situations.
Communication is the key
Have you ever really tried to talk to this difficult person? Good communication can solve many problems.
- Be clear: If something bothers you, say so! But do it respectfully and objectively.
- Listen carefully: Sometimes all a person wants is to be heard. Take the time to listen to their concerns and feelings.
- Give constructive feedback: Instead of criticizing, suggest solutions. This shows that you are committed to the partnership.
Sometimes we are the difficult person
And have you ever stopped to think that perhaps you are the “difficult person” and not the other person? This can also happen and you need to pay attention to all the signs around you that show this, such as distancing yourself from colleagues.
Therefore, set boundaries for yourself and the other person, as this will also help to measure empathy in a safer way.
As in any relationship, it is essential to set limits. This avoids wear and tear and misunderstandings.
- Make your space clear: This could be a physical space, such as your desk, or a time limit for conversations.
- Don’t mix personal and professional: If the problem is strictly professional, avoid taking it personally.
- Be firm but fair: When setting limits, be prepared to defend them, but always with respect.
The art of compromise
Working in partnership means making concessions. Find a compromise that benefits both of you.
- Be flexible: Your idea isn’t always the best. Be willing to give in on some points.
- Seek joint solutions: Propose brainstorming sessions to find the best solutions to impasses.
- Celebrate the small victories: When you both reach a consensus, celebrate! This strengthens the partnership.
Talking behind your back will lead to nothing and could make matters worse. Be professional and avoid this kind of behavior.
- Seek dialog: Before venting to others, talk to the person in question.
- Avoid side conversations: They only generate more misunderstandings and confusion.
- Be the change: Provide a healthy working environment by being an example of professionalism.
The power of praise
Have you ever noticed how a compliment can change someone’s day? Use it to your advantage!
- Recognize efforts: When someone does something well, praise them. This can motivate you to keep going.
- Be sincere: No empty compliments. Be honest and truly recognize the person’s qualities.
- Create a positive atmosphere: Sincere praise creates a lighter and more productive working environment.
Focus on the common goal
When personalities collide, remember the greater goal. Work is about the task, not the people.
- Keep your eye on the prize: If the goal is to complete a project, focus on that. Leave personal differences aside.
- Promote collaboration: Remember that together you can achieve more. Use the common goal as a uniting point.
- Review goals and progress: Meet regularly to discuss progress towards the goal. This keeps everyone on the same page.
Develop emotional resilience
Building up an emotional armor can help you deal with difficult behaviors.
- Practice self-reflection: Ask yourself: “Why is this affecting me so much?”. Often, it’s more about us than about the other person.
- Learn relaxation techniques: Meditation, deep breathing and strategic pauses can help keep you calm.
- Ask for support: Talking to someone you trust about your experiences can help put things into perspective.
The importance of training
Sometimes, the “difficult person” may simply not have the necessary skills for the task.
- Identify skill gaps: If a person is always frustrated, it may be because they don’t know how to do something.
- Promote training: Courses and workshops can be a great way to level up the team’s skills.
- Be patient: Everyone learns at their own pace. Give time and support.
Understanding different cultures and backgrounds
Cultural differences can be a source of misunderstanding.
- Be open and curious: Ask about the person’s culture and show genuine interest.
- Avoid stereotypes: Each person is unique, regardless of their culture or background.
- Promote inclusion: Make everyone feel valued and an integral part of the team.
Setting clear expectations
Many conflicts arise from unmet or poorly communicated expectations.
- Be specific: When defining tasks, be as clear as possible about what you expect.
- Review regularly: Do frequent check-ins to make sure everyone is aligned.
- Give feedback: This helps to adjust course if something isn’t going well.
The role of leadership
Leaders play a crucial role in mediating conflicts and ensuring good team dynamics.
- Be accessible: Encourage team members to come to you with their concerns.
- Promote harmony: Create team building activities to strengthen team bonds.
- Set the tone: Be an example of professional and respectful behavior.
The importance of self-care
We can’t do our best if we’re exhausted or stressed.
- Set personal limits: Dedicate time to yourself and your relaxation activities.
- Seek help when necessary: If you feel you’re at your limit, consider talking to a professional.
- Recognize your feelings: It’s natural to feel frustrated. The important thing is how we deal with it.
Adaptability: the key to teamwork
Change is constant and adaptability is a vital skill.
- Accept change: Instead of resisting, embrace change as a learning opportunity.
- Be proactive: Anticipate changes by studying and preparing for new scenarios.
- Promote an adaptive environment: Encourage your team to be flexible and to view change positively.
The miracle of patience
Sometimes all we need is a little patience to see the situation in a different light.
- Take a deep breath: Before you react, take a deep breath and take a step back.
- Give it time: Not all problems need to be solved immediately. Sometimes waiting can offer new perspectives.
- Recognize your triggers: Knowing what irritates you can help you avoid hasty reactions.
The value of mutual recognition
Recognizing each other’s efforts and talents can build bridges.
- Show appreciation: A simple “thank you” can go a long way.
- Celebrate achievements together: When the team reaches a milestone, celebrate together.
- Understand everyone’s strengths: Value and use individual talents for the benefit of the group.
Technology in our favor
Nowadays, we have many tools that can help improve communication and collaboration.
- Use project management software: It helps you track progress and responsibilities.
- Take advantage of communication apps: Tools like Slack or Teams can facilitate dialog.
- Empower yourself: Learn about new tools that can help improve team dynamics.
The journey of self-knowledge
Knowing yourself is fundamental to understanding and dealing with others.
- Invest in self-knowledge: Understand your strengths, weaknesses, triggers and passions.
- Ask for feedback: Find out how others see you and what you can improve.
- Develop self-criticism: Recognize when you are the problem and work to change that.
The importance of a break
Sometimes a break is all we need to clear our minds and start again.
- Go out for a coffee: A small change of environment can work wonders.
- Practice disconnection: Leave work at work. Dedicate time to other activities.
- Promote healthy breaks: Encourage your team to take short breaks to stretch or take a breather.
With these tips and strategies, working with a difficult person becomes a more manageable challenge. Remember, at the end of the day, the goal is to have a harmonious and productive working environment, and every challenge is an opportunity for growth and learning.
Practicing active listening
One of the biggest challenges in any relationship is feeling that you’re not being listened to. Active listening is the solution.
- Be present: When someone is talking, avoid distractions and focus on the person.
- Reflect on what you’ve heard: Repeat or rephrase what you’ve heard to make sure you’ve understood.
- Avoid interruptions: Allow the person to complete their thoughts before responding.
Cultivating empathy in the workplace
Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is vital for dealing with difficult people.
- Put on the other person‘s shoes: Try to understand the other person’s point of view and feelings.
- Avoid hasty judgments: There’s always more to a story than first meets the eye.
- Share experiences: Showing vulnerability can help build deeper connections.
It’s not always easy to work with someone you consider a “difficult person”, but with the right strategies and skills, you can turn these challenges into opportunities for personal and professional growth.
By practicing active listening, cultivating empathy, and applying all the other tips mentioned, we not only improve our daily interactions, but also contribute to a more harmonious and productive working environment.
Remember: every relationship, whether easy or challenging, teaches us something valuable about ourselves and others.