Tips for dealing with difficult people at work

Dealing with difficult people at work is unfortunately highly likely to happen at some point in your career environment, be it co-workers, bosses, customers, clients and even friends. Many people coming into this environment do not have the people skills or experience to handle this but if you can achieve that you can make a massive difference to the quality of your work and workplace morale.
Difficult people can come in a variety of different forms and how you deal with them can be effected by  factors such as your self-esteem, self-confidence and professional courage. if the group is effected by this individual it is generally easier to deal with, teaming together you can address their behaviour or inform management. The task becomes more difficult if they specifically target you and undermine your personal credibility.

Bullies – If you feel threatened, intimidated and bullied at work then you should report it to human resources, document their actions and show personal courage by laying out boundaries that they are pushing. If you personally try and discuss their behaviour with them this makes you not the easy target they think you are, question them on it but stay professional at all times. Other colleagues may also feel bullied by the same boss or co-worker so discuss attitudes around the office towards this person.



Negative co-workers – Some colleagues will hate their job and not want to be productive, do they have legitimate reasons for this attitude? Listen to their criticisms and suggestions, offer them help if any are actual issues that require help or attention called to. If they are exaggerating or being negative for negativity sake, then call them on it and point their bad attitude out.



Handling conflict – You must firstly judge if conflict is necessary, you don’t want to be seen as someone who creates conflict at work. However when you have to you must be firm, for example; when someone tries to take credit for your work, bad attitudes and when keeping projects on track. When firmness is needed you must approach your colleague in a polite manner, always remaining sensible and professional in your problem solving. More often than not the person in question will relate if you put it across in this tactful way, they may even apologise and explain how they didn’t mean to come across badly.



Creating relationships – To succeed you need to develop good professional relationships with  your colleagues, employees and supervisors. You can ruin your own opportunities by not attempting to form these by not trying with people, poor communication or over stepping boundaries. Having good relationships with people around the office, even on a general day-to-day basis, will make your job easier and more enjoyable.



Have difficult conversations – When someone needs to be told about an issue in their performance of the job that needs to be addressed, the conversation can be very awkward and difficult to initiate. It is crucial that you do this though, in the long run although it may be tense initially, it will help the person  going forward and they will thank you a year or two from now if they truly change the behaviour around. Be constructive and not crass when making statements, try to not make it a conflict but a wake up call about your concerns about how their actions look to others.



Dealing with a difficult boss – This can be hard and risk your career progression potentially. The fact is, you are in charge as much as them of how your relationship goes despite you thinking negativity is coming only from their side. If a boss gives you a hard time listen to any criticism that may be true and try to get along with them, really attempt it and you’d be surprised how they could warm to you. If it persists there are always pathways to go down further up the management ladder.



Co-workers bad habits – The key in this issue is to approach softly but not beat around the bush. For example, if an employee hungover and smelling of alcohol, warm them on this privately (perhaps send them home) and attach it to a business reason, for example their productivity is down when they’re in this state and colleagues are distracted. Don’t embarrass them, but don’t stand by and do nothing because the behaviour could repeat itself.



Team building – Once you have close working relationships, make some of them more personal so you really have backup. If you have any issues then these alliances you make can make the process of problem solving potentially a lot smoother in future. You will also see the benefit of this in your career progression, connections are important.



Dealing with gossip – This is unfortunately a regular part of working in an office, half truths can be distorted and words manipulated. It can damage morale and create a toxic office culture. you deal with gossip the same way you would deal with other negative behaviour discussed, bring it up and how it looks to others, how it isn’t true. If you’re in management then after warning staff try to coach them on how to improve their behaviour, some gossip is severely damaging to careers so extreme action can be necessary.










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