How to Handle Difficult People at Work: Its Success Secrets Now Revealed Here

by Percival J. Meris on April 11, 2010

Dealing with Difficult People

Photo, courtesy of Microsoft

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN BULLIED? A bully is just an example of one type of difficult person you may encounter in life. There are a host of others: from complainers and time stealers, to interrupters and gossips, to the hostile or the downright abusive.

It is tempting to avoid handling a problem like this. You just hope it will eventually disappear, if ignored. Ignored, however, it worsens to such an extent as to affect your cool. Dealing with people like these leave you drained physically and emotionally.

At work, supervisors, colleagues, or clients who drive you nuts affect your job performance. They can create poor attitude in you and reluctance to go to work, resulting in decreased productivity. As your morale drops, you think of looking for a more conducive work environment in another organization.

Learn to Handle Difficult People

Handling difficult people is one important skill you need to learn. At some point in your life, you will meet and have to deal with them. Handling them successfully reduces stress and anxiety, improves working relations with everybody, and increases enthusiasm and confidence in all professional relationships.

To do this, you must first understand their basic natures and characteristics. They become easier to handle if you do. Unfortunately, a number of them just enjoy being difficult without knowing it. Some become difficult to work with only in certain specific situations.

Strategies for Dealing with a Difficult Person

Deal with Yourself First

Before meeting face to face with that difficult person, some extent of introspection is necessary.

Ask yourself: Do I need to make some adjustments with myself to mitigate the impact of my condition on him?

Review the incident. How did I react? Was it I actually who was the difficult person? How could have I responded to effect a positive outcome?

Consider also the following:

How likable and respectable are you as a person? If you are and you make the other person feel important, your ideas will be important to him.

Have you developed coping and people-management skills? If not, consider doing so from now on. These valuable skills will serve you time and again, when situations arise.

Deal with the Difficult Person Next

When facing a difficult situation, remember these:

1. Take action before the situation becomes worse. If you do, you will never have any major problem to deal with.
2. Do not expect to change the behavior of the other person. Just improve on the way you handle him.

So, how do you do this?

Emphaty and Understanding

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Understand what’s causing his behavior. Simply doing this makes handling him a lot easier. It is battle half-won.

With this understanding, you equip yourself with the knowledge of how best to interact with him. You can then identify coping strategies that will change the nature of interaction with each other, especially with specific types of difficult people.

Objective Attitude

Disassociate yourself from the situation to help you see the bigger picture. Being aware of each other’s emotions can help you become more composed and in control. You can take things calmly and positively, and answer any question with ease. Most importantly, you can act in accordance to your own values.

Communication Skills

In situations like this, concentrate on effective communication strategies, verbal and nonverbal. When you meet, start conversations that create conciliation and goodwill.

As you converse, choose words and expressions that focus on the issue rather than the person. Instead of saying “You’re wrong”, calmly state, “I do not agree with your ideas, but I am willing to listen to your explanations.” Or, instead of “You need to get it to me,” you might say, “Reports need to be submitted on time.” If you speak this way, he is less likely to feel he is under attack.


There is nothing good or bad in the conflict arising between you. What makes it so is the way you manage it. Properly handled, it can even be used as a tool for growth of both of you.

Dealing with difficult people have much to teach you. From them you can learn some of the greatest lesson in your life. You must take advantage of this opportunity to grow from the experience.



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