Dealing with Difficult People


Working in human resources – or in any other of your company’s departments – sooner or later, you are going to have to work with someone – or a group of people – whom you really don’t like. It may be someone who thinks that the world revolves around him and his brilliant mind, someone who is very judgmental of others, or someone who constantly complains about everything. Whatever the case, in this situation, you spend most of your time and energy trying to control your own emotions.

But don’t despair because there are tactics you can use, according to business strategist Amy Gallo, that can help you get through a situation like this.

The first thing to focus on, Gallo says, is what you can control, meaning your own reaction to the obnoxious coworker. That is, instead of focusing on how annoying the person is, focus on your reaction to him or her and try to manage it. You can do this, Gallo says, by practicing some methods of relaxation every day, which will help you handle the stress.

Another thing to avoid is griping to other colleagues about the obnoxious coworker. This really accomplishes nothing and only puts you in a bad mood. Plus, if you begin griping to others, you may affect the mood of the whole office. Moreover, it also may reflect badly on you, giving you a reputation as someone who does not behave in a professional manner.

Also, Gallo advises to take an honest look at yourself, as well. Could you be part of the problem?  Is this person’s behavior really that annoying, or are more personal resentments driving your feelings? Is the person just a very different personality type than your own, or does the person just remind you of someone you don’t like? Could your annoyance stem from the fact that the person got a promotion and you got passed over? Focus on the person’s behavior, rather than just his or her personality, to help you determine whether your own prejudices are coming into play.

Another strategy that might seem a little counterintuitive, and definitely harder to carry out, is to actually spend more time with the person. By doing this, you learn more about him or her, and may come to a better understanding of why the person is behaving the way he or she does – problems at home, maybe, or pressure from a boss. It may lead to more empathy.

Also, if you feel the person might be receptive, Gallo says give the individual some feedback about his or her annoying behavior. The problem may be that your co-worker really is unaware of it because no one has ever brought it up.

Finally, in a situation where you have little control, try to develop a sense of detachment, an “I just don’t care” attitude. If the person is being annoying, but you take the attitude that you just aren’t going to care about or acknowledge it, that may help.

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