You can find many kinds of personalities in any workplace, and each one has its share of strengths and weaknesses.
But what should be done in a situation when your co-worker is simply impossible to work with? In this article, we’ll discuss some ways to handle difficult personalities in the workplace.
Some people are just difficult by nature.
Before we cut to the case, remember that not all difficult personalities are bad for business. An example would be someone who excels at their job but has no friends or social skills whatsoever—they might not be very friendly toward colleagues, and they’re still good money-makers.
These situations require tact and can be difficult to deal with. An executive coach can help you, but if you are on your own, then here are some tips on how best to handle a co-worker who is hard to get along with:
1. Tame your reaction
When you’re dealing with someone else’s bad behaviour, it’s important to remember that you’re in control of how you react. You can choose how you will respond to someone’s difficult behaviour and whether or not it affects your performance at work.
2. Be conscious of the impact you have on others.
Be aware of the context of your work environment, how it has changed over time and what challenges are specific to this team or company.
Look carefully at any interactions between yourself and difficult people, as well as between them. How do these interactions play out? What impact does it have on both parties? Do they recognise their behaviour or do they conveniently shift the blame to external factors? Are they aware that they are making others feel uncomfortable with their behaviour or comments?
- Practice empathy but communicate your boundaries
Empathy is a single, effective strategy for dealing with difficult personalities. This can be defined as the ability to understand another person’s experience and perspective, which is key to good communication. When you’re able to see things from another person’s point of view, you can respond more effectively – even if they are being unreasonable or rude – because you understand why someone is behaving the way they are.
But there’s a downside: empathy won’t control anyone else’s actions. If someone continues to make unreasonable demands or abuses your boundaries, it’s important not to let your own feelings of frustration get out of hand.
5. Don’t take it personally. Don’t jump to conclusions.
It’s easy to assume that a difficult personality is attacking you or other members of your team, but this isn’t always the case. They may very well be having a bad day and taking out their frustrations on others—because they’re frustrated with themselves too.
Do consider the possibility that jealousy is influencing this person’s behaviour. In addition, consider having a chat with them that’s oriented towards soothing the said person’s anxiety and assuring them that you are not a threat to their position.
6. Know the company policy on such matters.
Know your company’s policies regarding bullying, discrimination, and sexual harassment. It’s important to know what you can and cannot do when handling a situation like this.
Be careful not to misinterpret personal differences as workplace problems. As a case in point, if someone has an abrasive personality but doesn’t show signs of bullying, harassment, or discrimination against others on the job, it may not be necessary for management to step in right away.
7. Respond professionally but maintain a record of these microaggressions.
The next time the manager issues an inappropriate or unfair directive, you will be better equipped to address the situation. But how? Relax, this is no rocket science. You can do that by keeping a record of the microaggressions that occur at work and how they impact you and others.
What are your options for responding? Besides filing a formal complaint with HR—which is always an option—you can also assertively address the situation with your manager directly by documenting and then communicating the same:
- The incidents in question (time, date, and place)
- Your own behaviour during these incidents (what did you say/do?)
- The impact on others as a result of these incidents (what did they say/do?)
How can an Executive Coach help in resolving conflicts that arise at the workplace?
Bring an executive and leadership coach to act as an unbiased, trained professional to coach and counsel staff members with personality challenges as well as others who are impacted by their behaviour. Via active listening, asking questions, and facilitating individual and group conversations executive coaches can help manage the dynamics of a workplace.
A competent executive coach in Sydney can help your staff develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution skills to be better equipped to manage difficult personalities in your workplace.
It’s never easy dealing with difficult personalities and the lines can get blurred really fast.
Trying and understanding where they’re coming from is the best way to approach people who disagree with you.
In this regard, having an executive coach can help you effectively deal with such personalities as well as create healthier dynamics within the team.
If you are struggling with managing difficult personalities in the workplace, consider booking a free coaching session for you or your team right away.