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Let’s face it, some people are very difficult to deal with. In fact, some colleagues are such a challenge they make going to work a nightmare.
You’ll recognise these difficult employees because they arrive at work daily with several large cases of emotional baggage.
It’s even worse when your boss is one of them.
Much of the excessive turnover in the workplace is due to the stress of having to deal with hot-headed bosses, overly sensitive managers, highly judgmental teammates and pessimistic directors.
A dear friend of mine was so happy with her career, she would often say: “I love what I do so much, I don’t feel like I have a job.” She phoned me one Saturday morning saying I must stop what I’m doing and meet her for coffee.
With tears in her eyes, she explained her new boss was a chauvinist pig and is doing everything in his power to get her fired. She claimed his aggression towards her was so excessive, she believed she had to quit immediately and find a similar position elsewhere.
We sat for a couple of hours, she thanked me for my advice, but had already made up her mind to resign.
After a couple of weeks, she started a new job but was confronted with another difficult superior, and to make matters worse, she was informed by a former co-worker at her dream job that Mr Pig had been fired. Unfortunately, she was not able to return.
If you’ve found a job you truly love, a difficult colleague’s behaviour shouldn’t be enough to force you out. No one should have this much power over your personal and professional pursuits. Here are three ways to handle problem people.
First, keep your composure. While they are going off, instead of becoming all heated and firing back, pause, gather yourself and map a way forward.
Second, focus on the person. All too often, we are so eager to have our personal goals served, we forget that these toy-throwers are humans who, due to deep needs going unfulfilled, require an unjust amount of attention in order to diffuse their behaviour. Lock in to them and show them that they matter.
Last, stop trying to make them change. This is not your job. Accept them for who they are and manage your internal output towards them and devise personal systems to navigate with and around them.
The grass is rarely greener on the other side and even if you work for yourself, you will have difficult business partners or suppliers, so by embracing problem personalities and working to make the best of these challenging types, you’ll learn more about who you are and become less difficult yourself.
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