Let’s face it, everyone knows that there’s always that one person in the office who’s a little bit crazy. Maybe they aren’t medically crazy, maybe they are, but the one thing that they have in common is that these people are the difficult ones. You know who I’m talking about, the one who sends out crazy emails to people who forget to wash their bowl for more than 20 minutes; they’re the ones that stomp around exacerbated by, well, no one really knows why. This person is the one that you try to avoid the most and when you are forced to interact with them, you find yourself whispering quietly as you walk away, “Woosaaaaaaw.”
So, other than listening to your iPod at excessive levels or pretending to be on an important phone call, how do you deal with these people? How do you really learn to manage these relationships so that every day isn’t a battle. Let me tell you, it will always be a battle because you will constantly be coming into contact with difficult people, and they will continue to test you. Now, everyone is different and some methods work better than others. You just have to read their body language and really get to know how this person works. This doesn’t require much more than simple observation. See how they interact with other co-workers, listen to their phone conversations (to a certain extent, some things are really not meant to be over heard), and most importantly figure out what’s important to them and learn how to appeal to their bottom line.
I was given some advice a couple weeks ago about how to get what you want in life, in the work place, and with your boss. Learn what your bottom line is, know what you want to get out of a situation, and be very clear about both these things. Learn what this person’s bottom line is and appeal to it, show them how what you want will benefit them. So, doesn’t sound too bad right? Or, maybe you’re thinking that this advice is crazy and doesn’t make sense. Try some of these other tips and see what works best for you in your specific situation.
1. Get to know this difficult person through observation, learn what makes them crazy, this makes it easier to avoid being the one they lash out on.
2. Figure out what their bottom line is and learn how to appeal to it. If you know this person has to go smoke a cigarette at exactly 3pm everyday, don’t schedule a meeting during that time. Tip: This does not mean that you are giving them what they want, it means that you learn what their goals are and then you frame what you want in a way that benefits those goals.
3. Don’t talk badly about them behind their back. I know, I know, this is obvious. But, you would be surprised at how often it happens and we all know offices are worse than middle schools so, please, keep it to yourself. Go home, vent, move on.
4. Learn patience. This is extremely hard and can be very trying. However, that being said, it is one of the most underused methods in dealing with difficult people (this is not a fact, but simply a matter of opinion). Not only will patience allow you to work more effectively, but it will benefit you in many other areas in your life. Think of it as an opportunity to practice a virtue that takes a lifetime to learn.
5. Be kind. This might actually be harder than being patient with someone who you just want to scream at. “Kill them with kindness” did not become a saying for nothing. Don’t be overly fake, but be kind. Kindness can go a long way and you never know who is watching what you’re doing in an office setting. I don’t know if you believe in karma, but I do and if you try to make their life a living hell, it will come back to bite you in the butt.
Another thing to remember is that everyone has a past and you never know what is going on in a person’s life. I have dealt with many difficult people and have found it very hard to find compassion for them. However, if you are able to do this it will help you release your anger and resentment from them, thus allowing you to make emotional room for other feelings (like happiness, for example).
What have you found to work when dealing with difficult people? What are some creative ways to learn how to work harmoniously together?