Since most of our adult life deals with work and the working environment, our relations, experiences and connections in our workplace inadvertently become a major part of our lives. In the workplace, like other areas in our life, we are forced to deal with difficult people or difficult coworkers who persist in making us uncomfortable and adding significantly to our stress.
This sort of undue stress and pressure takes a toll on our productivity, motivation and overall work ethic. This is why it is important to learn how to patiently and efficiently deal with these people, who may include coworkers, friends, clients or bosses.
Learning how to mitigate the issues caused by difficult people improves overall workplace morale while actually helping you to achieve your tasks with minimum interruption. In the case of customers or clients, you can choose to ignore or appease them with a compromise, but when your coworkers make your job difficult, it requires a certain level of expertise to diffuse the situation.
Learning how to deal with difficult people, especially in the workplace, is a quintessential life skill for the working individual. Addressing issues caused by your coworkers regardless of their personality is key in building towards a harmonious and healthy work environment. As you learn to manage these conflicts, you can finally shift the focus onto yourself and perform efficiently.
Here are ten methods by which you can learn to deal with difficult coworkers, bosses or any other people in the workplace.
1. Learn to communicate and express your thoughts
There will be many work-related scenarios where your coworker may try to make things difficult, and ignoring them will not absolve this situation. Sometimes it is best to engage in a non-offensive confrontation where you can communicate how you feel about their disruption. A tip you can use is utilising the “I” language instead of blaming them for their actions.
An example of this is saying, “I feel disturbed when you say or do that”, instead of saying “you annoy me”. This simple rephrasing helps put the situation into perspective for them and often help in finding the solution.
2. Try to learn their perspective
An argument always has two sides and two points of view, and the simple act of putting yourself in another person’s shoes could help you resolve an issue. If you have a slight inconvenience or disagreements with some coworkers, looking at it from their perspective, understanding them and trying to empathize is a diplomatic arrangement. This, however, should not come at the cost of your own self-respect.
3. Develop strong work relationships
Since your work life defines your adulthood, it is of utmost significance that you try to develop strong and effective co-worker relationships. This is also an added boon when it comes to conflicts and confrontations within the workplace.
Having an effective work relationship can often be the difference between being alone and having a backup in a situation with difficult people from work. Your network defines your work.
4. Dealing with a difficult boss
Having a bad boss is the ultimate deterrent in any corporate and you must take necessary steps to distance yourself from workplace toxicity, favouritism and belittlement. If you think your boss will not change, a transfer to another department is advised as you must make a decision that best aligns with and supports your goals.
You can also try to have a face to face conversation with your boss or other supervisors who could help you navigate this particular situation.
5. Try to manage gossip
Gossip is the herald of uncomfortable situations and impropriety in the modern workplace. It paves the way for judgment, belittlement and an overall lack of professionalism among workers. Gossip mongers usually take some partially true news and blow it out of proportion hence affecting the whole system of communication.
Managing to deal with gossip is no small feat, but it can be ensured by various methods like having a clear line of communication.
6. Stay neutral at work
In another subset of managing gossip, it is important to not add to the huge gossip lines by simply ignoring the news. Always keep your opinions to yourself, as this can help stay neutral and promote a positive work environment. Try to discuss the best aspects of your coworkers rather than indulging in idle destructive chatter.
7. Try to limit your interactions
Although this may seem counter-intuitive in a healthy work environment, limiting your interaction and involvement with certain people in your job could be beneficial in the long run. Limiting your time with a coworker also helps you to cope with them better, as your interactions would be very few and far between.
8. Understand what triggers you
Looking inward to know the other is something out of Zen Buddhism which can perfectly translate to dealing with difficult coworkers. If you can completely understand your trigger points and what drives you over the edge, it greatly helps manage interactions with people who often induce these triggers.
9. Pay attention to the positives
It may be difficult to look at the bright side of things with a possibly annoying or incompetent coworker, but as soon as you find it difficult to cope, a sound thing to do is focus on the positives of your job. This greatly helps to distract you as well as reinforcing why you needed the job.
10. Reflect on your actions
During any disagreement in the workplace, it is extremely easy to only remember and bring up the person’s negatives at the other end. However, it is important to retrospect and be aware of your own shortcomings, and through this, you could finally break that loop of enmity.