Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Dealing with Difficult Behavior

Each of us can probably think of at least one difficult personality either at work or in our personal lives. Consider what the person does to annoy you and what you might be doing to aggravate the situation.

Dealing with Difficult Situations

A difficult person might be your boss, your coworker, or anyone else in your workplace. That person behaves in a way that is disruptive to business or life outside of work. In a work setting,  the functioning of a team may be disturbed, leading to a disruption of the work flow, flared tempers, and gossip. The bottom line is that work suffers and difficult situations cost organizations money. 

To deal with difficult people, we innately try to apply coping filters, such as:

· Removing virtually all positive attributes about the person. For example, we might say or think, "he was my worst hiring mistake."

· Defaming. We build consensus with others against the person.

· Describing the person in negative terms.

Anger also plays a big part. Feeling angry, we instinctively use anger to try to manage the situation.

To break the cycle of negativity, take time to answer the following questions:

1. What observable behaviors or statements did the person perform or say?

2. What is the most positive interpretation an outside witness would make? What is the most negative?

3. What can you gain by interpreting the difficult person’s actions or words in as positive a light as possible?

4. What would you do or say when you respond to the difficult person if you viewed their actions in a positive light? What is stopping you from responding this way?

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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