Strategies for Dealing with Difficult People

There will always be a Ned Negative or a Debbie Dragon in the workplace. While we can try to help others change, the bottom line is that they are adults and they will do as they choose.

What’s interesting is that sometimes we consider people difficult because they think differently than we do; or they have very different communications; or unique personalities. In reality, they are just being themselves. But we do have to maintain good relationships in the workplace. Here are tips on consensus-building.

I especially find the first one the best strategy of all of them. It has helped me the most in my relationships inside and outside the office.


Listen carefully in order to understand the other person’s point of view. Block out your own thoughts, judgments, and priorities and listen to the other person’s concerns and feelings.

Define The Problem

Are you clear on the real issue or conflict or is it just your perception? Ongoing communication helps clarify each person’s perception of the situation, ensuring that the problem is clearly defined.

Use Facts Only

Stick to the facts when confronting someone. You will get more positive results when you deal with the facts than with the emotions around them.

Talk To Each Other; Not About Each Other

Make every effort to approach the other person directly. Don’t talk behind someone’s back. Have the courage to talk to them. This gives you an opportunity to work on solutions.

Listen For Underlying Issues

Sometimes what we think is the problem, really isn’t. When the other person is speaking, listen for any hidden issues. Try to get to the heart of the conflict so you can deal with it.

Be Open And Honest, Don’t Hint

Use assertive communication techniques. Go directly to the source, be direct and specific. Let the person know what you find acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Widen Your Circle

Don’t confine yourself to this one individual to set your value or be your friend. Build a wider networking circle and remain balanced in your at-work relationships and interactions.

Keep Your Perspective

When conflicted it’s easy to think everything is negative and terrible. It isn’t! Keep a gratitude list, put a favorite happy photo on your cube wall, take a walk at lunchtime or grab a coffee with a friend.

Walk Away

Sometimes you may find none of these strategies work; despite your efforts, the other person will not work with you to resolve the problem. There are times when you should not negotiate but instead must walk away.

·         Individual is  highly competitive

·         Individual is unethical or illegal

·         Either party is too stressed to attempt reconciliation

Your goal in dealing with others is not to “win,” but create “win-win” situations.



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