How to Work with Difficult People

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86500681We’ve all had to work with them. Those stubborn, rude, insensitive, aggressive — basically all around difficult people. The bad news is there will never be a shortage of difficult coworkers. The good news? By employing certain techniques and behaviors, you can learn to overcome the challenges of working with difficult people.

Not all difficult people behave the same way. Let’s identify the different types of difficult people and how to deal with each:


The Bull

These are the aggressive, pessimistic people that you’ve dealt with before. The Bull has high expectations of the task, but low expectations of the people around them. Demanding, autocratic, pushy, and rigid — these are all attributes of The Bull. The typical reaction is to avoid these strong personalities at all cost. But to properly deal with The Bull, you must confront them calmly and thoughtfully, even if they are not. The best thing for you is to wait until they’ve said their piece and calmed down. Then it’s your chance to give your input and attempt to calmly resolve the issue.


The Time Bomb

These difficult people aren’t inherently tough to deal with. But because they’ve bottled up their frustrations over time, you may have the unfortunate experience of enduring their explosion when their frustrations come to a breaking point. Don’t attempt to discuss anything with them in the middle of their emotional explosion. Instead, wait until they run out of steam. They can’t keep their explosive energy up for very long, and once they calm down, it’s your chance to interject. Ask them a lot of questions and try to get at the root of their problem. Most likely, once the problem is resolved, they will be embarrassed about the way they acted.


The Whiner

Have you ever had a coworker who constantly complained about every single project or task? Then you’ve dealt with The Whiner. These are the de-motivators and naysayers of the office. They don’t think any project will be successful, ever. And they always believe their way of doing things is the right way to do things. The best way to deal with The Whiner is to ask questions aimed at moving the conversation toward a solution-based discussion. Ask them what they would do differently. How would they have approached the problem or task? Forcing them to think of solutions rather than the problem can help change their behavior.


The Know-It-All

The name says it all. These difficult people think they have all the answers and are confident in the way they accomplish tasks. Most of the time, they aren’t receptive to suggestions from others. To deal with The Know-It-All, ask a lot of questions about their approach. Once you get inside their thought process, ask if you could bring some suggestions to the table. Make sure to do some research before you try to compromise with The Know-It-All. Most of the time, they may not know everything, but they probably have more experience than you.


It’s important to recognize that we can’t change difficult people. They will decide to change when they come to terms with their own problems. But by employing the aforementioned techniques and tactics, we can learn to work effectively with difficult people.

Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.