Dealing with Difficult People – It’s Difficult!

Sherri Petro, President and Chief Strategy Officer of VPI Strategies, represents VPI Strategies on the Expert Panel for Managing Americans. is a management blog with more than 300,000 monthly readers. Sherri contributes monthly to the Workplace Communication Skills Blog and is one of the most highly read columnists.

Dealing with People Not Like Us – It’s Difficult!

20140224111006_DealingwithPeopleNotLikeUsItsDifficultIt seems to happen in a lot of workplaces. Someone is difficult. It can be a client, peer or (gulp) your boss.  Or it could be that incommunicative guy in the mailroom, the gossipy sales person, the surly receptionist or the aggressive fill-in-the-blank that puts a crimp in your day.

Might be that new Gen Y that asks too many questions, texts too much and talks too little. ENTITLEMENT! Could be the very direct Gen X who leaves the desk at 5 PM with work still to be done. UNCOMMITTED!  How about that Baby Boomer who called the two hour meeting so she could introduce a new process and all you’re concerned about is getting to the bottom line? TALK, NO ACTION!

In workshops I have conducted it is evident that the concept of being difficult is user-defined.  While there may be some similarities in types, what difficult means depends upon one’s own triggers.  From, “He punched his fist through the wall!” to “She doesn’t say hello each morning,” difficult is relative.  It behooves us to think of why the person triggers our reaction.

What is it…an attitude, a behavior or a lack of aptitude? Are they not doing their job?  Are they trying to do yours?  Is their energy too negative, too positive or too …blah? Identify your trigger so you can manage your own behavior.

Sounds simple enough, but the truth is that many want some magic bullet for getting along with them or simply have them disappear. Since door number two is unlikely, let’s deal with door number one. According to the authors of “Dealing with People You Can’t Stand”, Dr. Rick Brinkman & Dr. Rick Kirschner, there are four approaches when coping with difficult people:

      1. Do nothing
      2. Walk away
      3. Change your attitude
      4. Change your approach in dealing with them

Read the full article about Dealing with Difficult People on Managing Americans.

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