Dealing With Difficult People at Work 

Part 1

Dealing with difficult people at work is a fact of life. This series of articles helps you to discover the influence tactics that will enable you to get the best from just about anyone

Dealing with difficult people at work is a fact of life. This series of articles (this is the first of 4 articles) helps you to discover the influence tactics that will enable you to get the best from just about anyone...

Importantly, this will be one of the most crucial sentences you read:

It All Beings With You!

Are you willing to go along with the idea that YOU have a part to play in some of these difficult people and situations with which you have to deal? If you hold the belief - "No it's not me it's ALL their fault" then you have one of two options.

Option 1: Be willing to take a step back and say, "Okay let me see how I might be contributing to these problems"... if you are willing, then explore the rest of this article and the other articles in this series or

Option 2: Decide no - I can't take any responsibility for the difficult people I have to deal with, then best click the back button and find another site, because you really won't get value from what I'm about to share with you.

Still with me? Good for you.

So, if you are willing to go along with the concept that, you are part of the problem ... then celebrate! You are about to find the keys to help you get the most from yourself and just about anyone. When you get this right, your interactions with others become a breeze.

Let's take a quick peek at a few things YOU need to get right, in your head, before you start any conversations with those difficult people.

When Dealing With Difficult People Take Care of Your Emotional State

At the core of any relationship - be it in a work situation or your personal life - are feelings. Love, appreciation, joy, desire, hurt, anger, disappointment, shame, and confusion and so forth.

Your own, and other peoples emotions are always sitting there. Sometimes smothered, but that doesn't mean they aren't there! It is foolhardy to ignore them ... particularly if you, and the other person, aren't seeing eye to eye on a particular matter.

Your emotions are like your thoughts - you cannot turn them off ... if only it was so easy!

What's Your Vibe?

Unspoken feelings influence any conversation ... and all relationships. Your feelings send out a vibe that others feel - no matter how you might try to hide them!

Who hasn't experienced a person who is saying one thing - but their voice, tone, body language, facial expression are screaming out an entirely different message?

Even though you may be well justified to feel cross, frustrated, hurt etc by another person's actions, if you try dealing with difficult people, when these negative emotions are pulsing through you - the other person is going to pick up on (your vibe) and immediately become defensive.

Defensiveness doesn't enable a conversation to progress toward a satisfactory outcome for either person. So, how do you get beyond defensiveness?

There is a whole bunch of 'stuff' you can do to get beyond your own defensiveness, which we'll cover in more detail in upcoming articles. However, for now here are two techniques to get you out of defensiveness fast.

One quick and easy thing you can do is to use the BREATHE technique taught by Dr Alan Watkins. I've been applying this technique for a while now, and it works. BREATHE stands for Breathe Rhythmically, Evenly And Through The Heart Everyday.

Alan teaches this technique in his TedTalk below (make sure you watch both parts 1 and 2). You'll discover how using this breathing technique, can quickly and easily take you from a place of chaos to a place of calm so you can access your creative best. If you want to go into more detail, then grab his book Coherence. A deep and yet, fabulous read on how to make yourself Brilliant Every Day.

Being Brilliant Everyday - Part 1

Being Brilliant Everyday - Part 2

Another useful technique is to become more focused on where you are heading, than the problems that faced you.

Don't ignore the problems. Just give more focus toward where you are going than where you are. In other words be solutions-focused rather than problem-focused. Try the exercise below to practice this crucial leadership skill.

Do This Right Now

Think of a difficult person you know.

Now, instead of getting all tense and het up about the things they do that tick you off ... visualize how this relationship might look in a perfect world.

  • What can you see them doing differently?
  • How are you behaving differently?
  • What are you saying or doing that is influencing them positively?
  • What things do you appreciate about him or her?

You will add power to this if you write it out as a story. Describing how you feel. How they feel. What it will be like. What difference it will make in each of your lives. If you do it in bullet point format you'll not get quite the same results.

Your Emotional State Dictates Your Capacity to Be A High-Performance Leader and Influencer

If you can train yourself to think like this on the fly, as you are dealing with difficult people, you can put yourself (at worst case) in an emotionally neutral place.  At best case in a state of hope and anticipation.

An emotional state of hope and anticipation helps you to be much more creative in finding solutions and resolutions that work for both of you. Rather than trying to get back at the other person, for making your life difficult.

Think about it. Can you imagine someone who is hopeful and excited, plotting revenge and payback? 

Similarly, can you imagine someone who is hurt, angry, and resentful,

having the capacity to find a solution that works for both parties?

If you can change your thinking, you can change your emotions.

Change your emotions ...

Change the way you experience life!

Change the Way You React to Others

When dealing with difficult people, you may not be able to change what the other person does to you, or how they treat you. However, you can change the way you react to it. Wallowing in pity, anger, frustration, and/or blame is certainly never going to move your situation forward.

You have more power in most situations than you actually use. Often, you intensify the damage the other person is doing (or did), by portraying yourself as being hurt or put upon and obsessing about what the other person does or doesn't do. These types of thought patterns stop you from creating the life, and the outcomes, that you want. In effect, you are giving up your personal power.

In his book, "Man's Search For Meaning", Viktor Frankl wrote about his experiences in Concentration Camps during World War II (talk about dealing with difficult people!). His conclusion was, that no matter where we find ourselves, no matter the circumstances that surround us in our life, the one thing over which we will always have power is the freedom to choose our attitude.

The choice is YOURS.

In the moment what choice will you make about your attitude toward ANY given person/experience/incident/event? Read more about the moment of choice and how powerful it can be if you can learn to use it, rather than have it use you!

Go to part 2 of this article to discover who is the most powerful person in your team and why they could be sabotaging your team's success.

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