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Mastering Tough Talks: Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

Are you tired of feeling stressed and nauseous every time you step into the office? Even if your workplace lacks flashy perks like free coffee or a company car, you can still thrive if you learn to deal with difficult people effectively.

Let's face it, poor communication and lack of respect among team members can create a toxic atmosphere that nobody wants to work in. And when it comes to clients, genuine satisfaction is rare unless it's a scripted presentation from a higher-up.

But here's the thing: you don't have to suffer through it. By tackling the root causes of these issues head-on and finding constructive solutions, you can transform your work environment into a place where everyone feels heard, respected, and motivated.


Foto: Pexels

So why wait? Take charge of your workplace happiness today by mastering the art of dealing with difficult people. Your sanity—and your success—depends on it.

What is the problem?

Hey, let's face it, we're all carrying around our little bag of issues! It's good while they're small, but when they grow into something bigger, it can affect everyone around us. Equally, if we can recognize what annoys us about some people, we can find a way to solve those problems.

"Difficult" people are characterized by one or more of these characteristics; rudeness, arrogance, rejecting all ideas, being bossy, being late, micromanaging, stealing other people's ideas and passing them off as theirs, and taking credit for others.

When we recognize such patterns of behaviour, it is good to put ourselves in their shoes and try to recognize the reasons why someone does it. Are these, perhaps, differences in characters, perhaps a desire for provocation or real hostile behaviour. Each type of such "difficult" behaviour requires a different response. Bullying, harassment, or any hostile behaviour requires a discussion with superiors or the human resources department, who are supposed to prevent such patterns of behaviour. If there is no simple solution, it is good to reduce contact with such people. The focus should be on what can be brought under control.

Those things that we cannot control, and most of them are around us, we will not be able to change on our own. Changing others is also a losing game. What we can change are our reactions and responses and they are the real way we can influence problems.

In such situations and relationships, it is good to be a little self-critical and be able to think about whether we are not the problem. It is good to think about how we affect others and how others see us. Often what we say about others says more about ourselves than about that person.

Don't take everything personally

When you know that the problem is not in you, be professional, helpful and kind. If the situation does not change, think about why people behave badly. Maybe they are going through some stressful situations that have nothing to do with you or it is a person who has learned to behave like that.

Each of us behaves differently depending on our character, the environment in which we grew up, previous experiences, beliefs and expectations, emotional state and mental health.

Psychologists say that deep inside every "difficult" person is an insecure and unhappy person. They have a hard time dealing with their internal conflicts and negative self-image by recognizing or projecting the same onto others and attacking them. They are constantly fighting a battle for survival, protecting, projecting, attacking and thus experiencing their problems on others. They are constantly in some kind of internal war and have little or no inner peace.

Counselling such persons, although they hardly accept any critical sentence about themselves, is the only way to tell them that problematic behaviour will not be tolerated.

Each of us wants to feel heard and seen. When we feel listened to, we listen more carefully to ourselves and can better evaluate our thoughts and feelings.

Talk about the problem

Although some people are impossible to talk to, communication must not stop. Try to have a constructive conversation with the person who is causing you problems. While doing this, do your best to stay calm. Try to confront them about their behaviour. Before starting the conversation, prepare and shape your intentions and try to keep the goals you want in focus. Remain professional and treat difficult people with respect, but stand up for yourself if they don't respect you. The focus is not on them as persons but on the problem itself. You and that person are the team that needs to solve the problem. Communication must be clear without a passive and aggressive style. And be prepared to cut off communication when things get out of hand.

How to put out the fire?

Trying to communicate with a difficult person can turn into a conflict. Then it is important to explain your point of view and listen to the other side. One should remain clear and calm without accusing and blaming. It is best to speak in the I form. It is better to say "It makes me tired when I have to work on your tasks along with mine" instead of "you are incapable of doing your job and you don't respect others and their time".

You should be aware that each of us wants to feel heard and seen. When we feel listened to, we listen more carefully to ourselves and can better evaluate our thoughts and feelings.

It is good to listen, ignore words, read emotions and reflect them to the other party. Tensions in communication must always be reduced and the other party should always be involved in problem solving.

Take a break from stress

After difficult conversations, it's good to rest. De-stressing after spending time with difficult people takes time. Stress is easy to recognize. It is manifested by headaches, fatigue, sleep problems, restlessness, irritability, but also overeating, and increased intake of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

Everyone needs to find their best way to reduce stress - it can be walking, breathing exercises, meditation, painting, singing, dancing, talking with friends or family, playing with friends, family, pets, and what is perhaps our biggest challenge, taking a temporary break from social networks.

You cannot control other people and their actions. What you can control are your responses and reactions.

What to do if communication does not work?

If your colleague is rude and disrespectful again, and there is no solution, talk to management, communicate with human resources and record problematic situations. Reduce contact with the problem person if possible or replace it with contact with another person.

The most important thing to remember is that you cannot control other people and their actions. What you can control are your responses and reactions.

Don't take things personally, communicate with the person causing you problems about the problem. Say that you do not tolerate disrespect and try to resolve the issue between the two of you, without other people's involvement. If that doesn't work, ask someone for help.

Thinking about going to the workplace should not cause us discomfort, and especially not fear.

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