Difficult people play dirty


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Difficult people play dirty

  1. 1. Difficult People Play Dirty ”To err is human, to blame the next guy even more so.” – Unknown Some of the greatest difficulties we encounter on the job come from having to work with people we don’t like. The sense of frustration and dread can create such loathing for the work environment that it can actually affect physical health. If you have been, or are currently, embroiled in a negative work situation, then you know. Learning ways to deal with such situations may be easier said than done, but with practice they can prove effective. “Everybody has individual attitudes. Positive morale is created by bringing these attitudes together through communication,” said Susie Chapa, coordinator of Cooperative Education at The University of Texas-Pan American’s Career Placement Services Office. “Having respect for each other and then communicating openly builds a strong office team spirit that is at the core of office morale. It can prove effective when dealing with difficult people too.” Harriet Meyerson, author and founder of The Confidence Center, spoke with Robert M. Bramson Ph.D., author of “Coping With Difficult People,” and published their conversation in Vitality magazine in October 2001. Dr. Bramson provided the following advice about working with difficult people: “Individuals behave in a difficult manner because they have learned that doing so keeps others off balance and incapable of effective action. Worst of all, they appear immune to all the usual methods of communication and persuasion designed to convince or help them change their ways,” Bramson said in his interview with Meyerson. Bramson offers the following strategies for coping with such people. Consider these “don'ts” when dealing with difficult people: • Don't take difficult people's behavior personally. Their troublesome behavior is habitual and affects most people with whom they come in contact. • Don't fight back or try to beat them at their own games. They have been practicing their skills for a lifetime. • Don't try to appease them. Difficult people have an insatiable appetite for more.
  2. 2. • Don't try to change them. You can only change your responses to their behavior. Here's how you can cope effectively with four common types of difficult people. Openly Aggressive People: Stand up to them, but don't fight. Overly aggressive people expect others to either run away from them or react with rage. Your goal is simply to assertively express your own views, not try to win a battle of right and wrong. Snipers Difficult people are experts at taking potshots and making sneak attacks in subtle ways, such as humorous put-downs, sarcastic tones of voice, disapproving looks and innuendoes. You may feel uncomfortable replying to them because you don't like confrontation. This, however, allows snipers to get away with their covert hostility. Respond to a sniper with a question. “That sounds like you're making fun of me. Are you?” A sniper usually replies to such accusations with denial, “I'm only joking.” Nevertheless, questioning covert attacks will reduce the chance for similar attacks in the future. Complainers These are fearful people who have little faith in themselves and others because they believe in a hostile world. Their constant discouragement and complaining can bring everyone to despair. “Don't try to argue these difficult people out of their negativity. Instead, respond with your own optimistic expectations,” says Bramson. Silent People People who ignore you, give you sullen looks, and/or respond to every question with either “I don't know” or silence are difficult because they're timid. Silent people get away with not talking because most people are uncomfortable with silence and are too quick to fill in the gaps. Ask them questions that can't be answered with just a “yes” or “no,” such as, “Why is it uncomfortable for you to answer my questions?”
  3. 3. Then wait at least one full minute before you say anything. This long silence may make them uncomfortable enough to say something. If they do start talking, listen carefully. “20 Ways to Deal with Difficult People” written by Nancy Evans, co-founder of the Web site iVillage, provides straightforward advice for dealing with difficult people. Some of her advice is listed here. o Remove the blame factor - Oftentimes, indirect language works because it focuses on the project rather than the person. Instead of saying, “You need to get it to me,” you can say, “Reports must be turned in by ...” or, “Payroll must be completed by ...” That way, people are less likely to feel accused or hounded. o Talk in person or by phone o Be brief - When discussing problems, keep it short and direct. It minimizes a stressful situation for both of you. o Handle a whiner with tact - Don't ask open-ended questions, not even “How are you?” Limit your greetings to “good morning” and “good evening.” And be busy all the time. The words “I'm sorry, I don't have time to chat right now” are your friends. Know them, love them, use them. o Do your homework - When you go to your boss with an issue or problem, make a list of the specifics you want to address, research the issue and get your facts right. When you have everything ready, schedule a meeting, and be cool and professional. o Don't complain - Watch what you say to anyone at work. The only reason to bring up negative issues is to create a plan for correcting them. o Let go of your anger - Sometimes it's hard to get past your own feelings of anger or hurt and your need to get them out. Write how you feel in a letter and mail it to yourself, or keep it at home. Then resolve to put your anger aside. If you're curious in a couple of months, read the letter. You may be surprised at how those feelings have changed. o Stick to the points - Whenever you have to discuss something with a difficult coworker, write down three to five main points, and stick to them. Even if they get off the subject and start saying nasty things, always come back to your main points. o Keep people in the loop - Don't spring any surprises on your boss or coworkers – like a new deadline or a developing problem. People don't like that, and they can react defensively. o Stop gossip - Gossipers just want to stir up trouble and they need attention and fuel to keep the conversation going. If you don't respond, they move on. o Be friendly without getting too close - You don't have to be bosom buddies with everyone at work. It is important to have a
  4. 4. friendly relationship with your coworkers, but look for emotional fulfillment in your life, away from work. o Cultivate small talk - Ask people about the things they like – music, movies and pastimes – to disarm them, get them talking and make them feel comfortable with you. Then you can bring in magazine clippings or start conversations that create goodwill. This article has provided a few solutions on how to deal with difficult people. Most of us at some time face such issues. Sometimes the situation blows over and at other times it lingers indefinitely, never resolving fully to an agreeable compromise. Nothing, however, in this article will be of any use if not practiced, practiced and practiced. Unless the offending party disappears, it is up to you and only you to learn how to change the situation for you. Remember, changing someone else is almost impossible. ”If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.” - Maya Angelou, author