5 Helpful Ways to Deal With a Person’s Bad Attitude

Recently, I was conducting a full-day workshop for administrative professionals at a large organization. I was purposely brought in to help these assistants manage change, build strategic partnerships with their managers, learn how to be more proactive, and build peer synergy. This was a mandatory training event and sometimes when employees are told they must attend training, they get a little defensive. I get it but on the other hand, the employee should be happy their employer cares enough to invest in professional development.

Well, we have one individual who started off the day being negative about the training and it took a lot of energy on my part to deal with her attitude so it did not affect the rest of the class and our overall objectives for learning. Eventually, she got into the material but I could tell she still had some hidden resistance. At that point, I just let her be as she wanted. She was the one losing out; not me.

I’m sure you run into people in your workplace who, for whatever reason, have bad attitudes. Here are some observations that might help you when you deal with these individuals.

People are who they are. Like spouses or children, they don’t “change” because you will it. So exerting your influence and expecting the response you want is foolhardy at best and potentially disastrous for your relationship at worst.

Try to empathize, even a little. Remember: life is not fair, and it can be harder on some than for others. People who feel defeated or alone in the world still have to wake up each morning and eke out a living like the rest of us. We don’t have to know the exact reasons behind their troubles to see the cloud that surrounds them at work, and to pause a moment and wish that weren’t so—for their sakes more than ours.

Reach out as you’re able. Make an effort to connect and be friendly—more than once, if need be. People with poor attitudes tend to be protective and distrusting — and may not initially welcome your friendship, perhaps because they fear there are “strings” attached. Be gentle in your persistence: It’ll reinforce your sincerity, likely earning their trust and a better attitude in the process.

“When You …………, then I.” Couch things from a “when you/then I” perspective (“When you are late to the meetings, then I have to simultaneously take minutes and run the tech media, which really takes two people.”), rather than “you always/never …………”

Think Constructively. When a person’s bad attitude cannot be tempered by the above methods, yet still need to be addressed for the benefit of the workplace, you need to consider constructively confronting the situation. Many times, informing people of their bad attitude in a positive way (i.e., “I thought you’d want to know the impact that X, Y or Z is having on the rest of the department because I’m confident that’s not how you meant to be perceived.”) can help influence change simply by making them aware.

Ask yourself, “Is their attitude a daily event or due to behind-the-scenes circumstances?”

In closing, make sure you aren’t the person going around the office with a bad attitude that someone else is having to deal with. If you want more information on maintaining a positive attitude, check out our blog category “attitude.”

Have an awesome week!

Joan Burge

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