6 Ways to Deal with Difficult People at Work

Anyone working in an organization or with a group of people should master the art of coexisting with another human person. Unfortunately, no special memos are sent by the HR indicating the step-by-step on how to deal with that annoying office blockmate or that toxic project leader. Especially as a newbie, figuring out how to maintain a harmonious lifestyle in the workplace can be a tough task. Before you even think about where your next job should be, here are some tips on how to deal with *difficult* people at work.

1. Be friendly, but NOT friends with everybody

Being polite and open to small talks is a good way to establish rapport with your new colleagues. After all, what is a great job without some chitchat about what you had for breakfast or today’s weather forecast on the side? However, make sure to draw a line and to avoid oversharing about personal matters such as your love problems or the issues you have on another workmate. This invites others to also overshare information, and the next thing you know they are over-boring you with their midlife crises. You need to have a feel of which one of your workmates could have the tendency to be inappropriately clingy, but once you’ve already fallen in the trap, be quick enough to back up and redirect the conversation about the work that you do.

2. Set your boundaries

As you try to maintain friendliness with everyone, do not also forget to set your boundaries early on. When someone tries to step over the lines of what is comfortable to you, speak up and politely call the person out. This shows that you are not someone who can be easily swayed in whatever direction others want. You are a professional and a sensible human being devoted to maintain a healthy environment in the workplace. Do not feel guilty for setting your intentions straight and for speaking out your limits clearly. You can only go far by playing the martyr card and you would eventually feel burned out if you keep this up.

3. Use positive language, both verbally and non-verbally

Part of everything that you do in the workplace is to communicate. Exercise directness and discreetness in the things that you say and in the actions that you make. Do not spread ill will through gossip or play your music louder or pound on your keyboard harder trying to outwit a colleague. Offended by a workmate? Talk with him or her privately and properly lay out your sentiments. Annoyed by a particular habit by your colleague? Ask the person about their intention, share your concerns, and suggest an alternative that is livable for both of you. Remember that things do not always have to be complicated and issues can be solved in a mature and professional way by, simply, talking.

4. Ask for help

When things go out of hand such as when colleagues team up against you or a coworker won’t stop bullying you, ask for help from the right people, specifically, the Human Resources. You will need an ally, and the correct way to seek help is by letting your authorities know the truth of the situation. You may even try to take a broader issue in a group meeting by bringing up the need to be respectful with one another and ensuring that everyone are treated equally in the workplace. This way no one is pointing fingers at anybody and the issue is addressed in a more general and guided manner.

5. Set the example

The Golden Rule always applies as it is, but an even better version would be is to set as the example. Show and make your colleagues experience the treatment you want to get from them. If you don’t like to be shamed in front of people, let your annoying colleague save face. If you don’t like feeling guilty for addressing an issue at work, step up and own accountability when you are the one being called out. Always examine your own words and actions and seek suggestions on how you can improve as a workmate.

6. Do not sweat the small stuff

Only you can decide which of the nuances at work you will let get to you. Only you can also develop an appropriate state of mind at facing any difficulties in life. Start by being more understanding and patient. Then go an extra mile by not letting your work take over your life. Take a break. Take a walk. Talk with someone outside work. Do not let a glitch in the relationship with your colleagues make you want to give up the job that you should be enjoying. Do your best to be a kind and patient individual and surely it won’t be difficult for you to remain calm and professional in the face of difficult people wherever you are.

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