It’s Not You It’s Me: Breaking Up With Your Strategy for Dealing With Difficult People

behavior Jun 04, 2018

When it comes to dealing with difficult people at work, the toughest ones I hear about in my coaching practice fall into two categories: co-workers or bosses. How you handle your challenging situation should be influenced by your relationship to the person, as well as the general culture at your organization.

All the good advice you’ll read on the subject has one thing in common: the only person you can truly change is yourself. Before you go into a confrontation, take the time to reflect on your own interpretation and reactions to difficult people and situations. Talk with a trusted friend or mentor to get honest feedback on your own behavior. Of course, bring in your human resources department if you’re dealing with a truly toxic situation. I encourage you to take appropriate action, rather than do nothing or even leap to changing jobs. Many times there is a better solution to the problem if you can find the resources to help you handle it.

Not sure where to start? Here are four articles that I have found to be helpful:

1. You Can Learn How to Deal with Difficult People at Work, from The Balance

“Dealing with difficult people is easier when the person is just generally obnoxious or when the behavior affects more than one person. Dealing with them is much tougher when they are attacking you, stealthily criticizing you or undermining your professional contribution.”

2. 4 Simple and Effective Strategies to Handle Difficult People at Work, from Inc.

“You can learn all the strategies in the world to manage a difficult person, but the smartest thing you’ll ever do is to manage your own emotions."

3. 7 Ways to Deal With a Difficult Boss, from Forbes

According to Gallup, “half of the employees in one survey reported leaving a job to get away from their boss.”

4. 4 Types of Bad Bosses and How to Handle Them, from CNBC

“Bad managers, unfortunately, seem to fly under the radar. 55 percent of respondents stated they didn’t report the bad manager to leadership. Employees avoid confrontation and instead move companies.”


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