In your working life you are always going to come across people that are, well, just plain difficult. Whether they are a colleague in your office, a client or a key external stakeholder, there is no getting away from the fact that you are going to be presented with these challenges as you navigate your way to success.
Sometimes these people hold the power to slow your progress, divert success away from you or your project, or turn various key stakeholders against you. As disappointing as this can be, maintaining a laser focus on what’s important can give you the perspective you need to be less reactive and more proactive in achieving your career goals.
After 15 years of running a business I have learned that people management is just as important as strategy and financials. Remember, your reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself, so instead of letting a difficult person get in the way of your success follow my top three tips below for avoiding unnecessary chaos and coming out on top.
1. You know what they say – keep your friends close and your enemies closer. No matter how rude, obnoxious or challenging someone may be, don’t take the bait. Continue to include the difficult person in decision making processes and on emails to ensure they feel included and important, all the while ignoring as much of their negative behaviour as possible.
2. Subtly sound out people around you – do they experience the same thing? Do they notice this behaviour? If not, the last thing you want to do is moan as this then turns you into the difficult person, who can’t deal with interpersonal office relationships. However, if they do recognise or experience the same thing, ask them how they deal with it – the old saying that a problem shared is a problem halved comes to mind here.Further, scope out whether those who are in leadership positions also notice this behaviour. Sometimes subtly highlighting hostile behaviours without looking like ‘dobbing’ can cast doubt in other people’s minds and make them aware of who might be the problem in the working environment
3. Play the psychologist – try and understand why this person is behaving this way. There is always a reason, and it usually is tied to an emotional attachment or reaction to something you would least expect. It is also usually linked to low self-esteem. So how do you help
change this? Talk to them, praise their achievements and publicly acknowledge them. Ask about their family and their upbringing. By understanding why they behave the way they do, it makes it easier not to take their behaviour personally and also gives you tools to help predict what might trigger their behaviour.
At the end of the day most people just want to be recognised and feel important and valued. So no matter how much you want to throttle the person who makes your working life difficult, don’t give up or give in.
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