Have you ever dealt with someone you termed as difficult at your workplace? I bet you have. The term difficult people at work typically refers to people who are challenging to work with or difficult to manage. These people can be a real pain in the neck (for lack of a better word), but don’t worry, you’re not alone. Whether you are an employee, manager, HR leader, or any other significant part of an organization, you will have to deal with them at some point or another. Difficult people often generate a great deal of tension, conflict, and stress in an organization. If you’re not prepared for them, they can take a toll on your productivity. It can be tough to stand up to someone who constantly undermines your authority, which is these people’s speciality.
Difficult people at work can come in many different forms. They can be disruptive, disrespectful, and uncooperative. In some cases, they may even be fraudulent or dishonest. However, the underlying problem is usually the same: someone is trying to assert themselves in a way that doesn’t feel comfortable or safe for you. While it can be challenging to deal with difficult people at work, you can employ several strategies to help mitigate the effects of their behavior. But, before that, let’s unfold upon the various types of difficult people often found at workplaces.
The Different Types of Difficult People you might encounter at work
The complainer is one of the most common difficult people to deal with. They are often unhappy, and they express their unhappiness in a way that can be frustrating for others. Complainers complain about their job, their managers, and anything else that pops into their heads. Complainers will constantly mention how other people are not doing things right or treating them fairly when it doesn’t affect them. The worst part of dealing with a complainer is there’s no telling what they’re going to complain about next! They can morph from one complaint to another like chameleons change color.
The Constant Critic
The constant critic is another common type of difficult person. While the complainer is unhappy, the critic has a grudge against almost everything in their work environment. Criticizers are negative and sarcastic and find fault with everyone they meet. They take every tiny mistake you make and turn it into a mountain that you have to climb to prove yourself. A person who is always looking for reasons to critique others can be disruptive and destructive to the team environment.
The Compulsive Perfectionist
A compulsive perfectionist is one of the most complex personalities to deal with. This type of person is always looking for ways to improve themselves and their work performance. They are often very critical of others, making working together very challenging. Perfectionists also tend to keep everything under control and manage every situation perfectly. If you don’t meet their high expectations, they can further become angry and criticize you. These people tend to be micromanagers since they don’t believe someone can do a better job.
The know-it-all is another difficult person who can be very frustrating to work with. This person thinks they always have the answer and are not afraid to share it. They are often condescending and expect others to listen to their opinion without offering a counterargument or alternative viewpoint. Know-it-alls also tend to be judgmental, which makes working together challenging. They always consider themselves smarter than the other person in the room.
The Jealous Person
A jealous person is one of the colleagues that can be very destructive to a team environment. This person often takes credit for everything others achieved and feels entitled to share in the glory. Jealous people are often hostile toward others and spread rumors about others that don’t match the actual situation. They also tend to be jealous of their coworkers or look for faults or mistakes in everyone around them, giving you unnecessary stress at work every day. They are often petty, which makes working together difficult. Jealous people also tend to become angry if they do not receive the attention they want or feel they deserve. They can also try to ruin other people’s work by sharing details that are not appropriate.
The NO sayer often refuses to participate in discussions or decision-making altogether, challenging working together. They only say NO irrespective of whatever request you make or the suggestion you offer. They also tend to be selfish and do not care about the feelings of others. If you disagree with them, they will usually ignore you.
The procrastinator can be very frustrating to work with. This person sometimes forgets essential tasks or projects and will wait until the last minute before making any progress. They also consistently put things off even after a constant email or verbal follow-up, which makes working together difficult. These people also tend to take too many breaks during and after working hours, and it makes it difficult for other members of a team or project to get their work done because they are either late on tasks or not doing them at all. Their professional contribution to the organization is often minimal. They will also often give excuses for why they cannot finish what has been assigned.
Bullies are intimidating and dislike employees who do not “belong” to the group or someone’s social status. They have strong opinions on subjects they don’t know much about, and when you disagree with them, the bully will be very hostile towards you. The bully will often use their position in the team, such as power over others or persuasion skills backed by threats of discipline from bosses like termination, demotion, etc., to get other people on board with them (often against their best interests).
The Easily Triggered
They are the kind of complex people who are bound to cause a lot of drama and tension in the workplace. This type of person is usually impulsive and reacts without thinking things through. They are also quick to take offense, leading to many conflicts. These people have too many hot buttons, which will create trouble for you if one is pushed. They can even show disrespect or can detriment other people when triggered. These kinds of people are usually high maintenance as one has always to maintain avoidance of their trigger points whenever dealing with them.
The 10 Strategies For Dealing With Difficult People
1. Understand that difficult people are not necessarily bad people
Difficult people can be frustrating, but that doesn’t mean they are bad people. Instead, they are simply struggling with certain aspects of their personality or life that can get in the way of their relationships and interactions. They are just different from you in some way and may not understand your point of view. Instead of reacting negatively to them, try to deal with compassion. It would help if you aimed to understand their perspective and adjust your actions accordingly. It will help improve your relationship with them and even lead to a positive outcome. Try to make the conversation you have with them effective and productive.
2. Be patient
It can be tough to deal with difficult people, but it’s important not to give up too soon. Sometimes, the best way to get through to them is to be patient and persistent. Approach them calmly and rationally, and stay focused on the task. If they start becoming hostile or aggressive, it’s time to back away and take a step back. Remember, difficult people are usually just trying to defend themselves somehow. Don’t take it personally, and stick to your principles – after all, that will help you get what you want. Being patient with them will lead you towards productive ways of dealing with difficult people.
3. Avoid getting drawn into a confrontation
Confrontations can lead to negative consequences such as stress, anxiety, and even physical health issues. These confrontations can also lead to interpersonal problems, and relationships sometimes collapse. When possible, try to avoid getting drawn into clashes with difficult people, and it will help avoid any unpleasant encounters and save you time and energy. Instead, focus on maintaining a calm and rational disposition and stay composed when dealing with difficult people. If the situation warrants it, reach out for help from friends or team members who can offer you sage advice and support.
4. Don’t take their behavior personally
If someone you know is difficult to deal with, it may be tempting to take their behavior personally. Difficult people are often just trying to stir up trouble and get under your skin, which is usually not worth your time or energy. Instead, focus on taking a step back and assessing the situation before reacting. If that doesn’t work, consider removing yourself from the situation altogether. In the worst case, if the person is causing you grief, you can choose to address the issue head-on, but otherwise, it’s best to steer clear.
5. Make sure you are familiar with your company’s policy regarding challenging behavior
It is imperative to be aware of your company’s policy on challenging behavior. There may be times when you are expected to handle disagreements or challenging situations created by difficult people constructively and professionally. It can be helpful to know your company’s expectations beforehand so that you are not taken by surprise and end up having to improvise on the fly. Going against the company’s policies can result in devastating consequences for yourself, your coworkers, and most importantly, the company’s reputation. By being savvy about your company’s policies, you can avoid any potential conflict or confrontation and keep your work environment safe and productive.
6. Keep a record of the incidents
It’s easy to get angry and frustrated when dealing with difficult people, but it’s important not to lash out. Instead, take a few minutes to document the incidents so that you can objectively analyze the situation and come up with a plan of action. You should record the detailed experience of the situation and include the dates, times, and documentation relating to what happened. It will help you stay calm and collected and better equip yourself to handle the situation in the future. It will also help you look for patterns in the behaviors and figure out how to deal with them beforehand. Further, it will enable you to develop an effective option whenever coping with a difficult person, which may resolve it in the long term.
7. Seek support
The next strategy you can try to deal with difficult people is to seek out help. Support is crucial in managing difficult situations and shifting your perspective, whether from a friend, team member, family, or therapist. It can be challenging to stand up for yourself and manage difficult conversations with difficult people. But by finding someone to support you, whom you trust and can lean on, you will be in a much better position to deal with the situation. Their supportive actions will guide you to overcome a difficult situation without any resentment or negative emotions. Additionally, by seeking out support, you will increase your resilience when dealing with difficult people in the future.
8. Keep a positive attitude
No matter how complex or irritating someone may be, it is essential to maintain a positive attitude when dealing with them. By keeping your cool, you can avoid getting overwhelmed and stressed out, only making the situation worse. Additionally, it is always best to remember that these people are just humans with emotions and feelings just like you. They are not perfect, and you should not expect them to be. Remember to take things one step at a time and stay calm and rational when dealing with them. This positive attitude will also help you in your career by preventing you from letting any uncomfortable situations affect your professional life. It will also enable you to deal with your problems at work positively.
9. Don’t give up
No one is perfect, and that includes difficult people. While it may be tempting to give up on them and move on, it only leads to disappointment and frustration. Instead, try to understand their motives and find a way to resolve the issue without getting too emotional. Stay calm and collected, and don’t let the problematic person control your emotions. Finally, remember that difficult people are only painful for a short period, and eventually, the difficulty will fade away.
10. If all fails, cut your losses
What if you have tried everything and it still doesn’t work? It is time to cut your losses and start disassociating yourself from them. Your next step will depend on your working relationship with this person. If this is a team member, it might be time to let them go and respectfully request them to find other opportunities. On the other side, if it is a peer, you can always ask for a different project that can reduce your interactions with this person. If this person is your manager, then it might be more tricky. Your options could be a request to the HR team to change your team. Or it may be the time to find another job. After all, people leave bad managers even if they like working in the company.
Dealing with difficult people can be a real challenge, especially if you’re not prepared. It’s essential to know the different types of difficult people you might encounter and learn how to deal with them accordingly. By following the ten Strategies outlined in this blog, For Dealing With Difficult People, we believe that you will be able to remain calm and in control, no matter what situation arises. These strategies will lead you to become a better and less stressful person. Lastly, remember that it is never too late to start over again with difficult people. Do not let them stop you from achieving your goals!