Dealing with Difficult People at Work

How do you maintain your composure when a colleague is constantly yapping in your ear or asking you  personal questions? Most workplaces have at least one difficult colleagues that you have to learn to work with.

It can be a challenge to remain calm when working with these people. Thankfully there are strategies you can employ to help you to remain calm and solution-oriented.dealing_with_difficult_people

We will examine how to deal with three types of colleagues: the colleague who argues with everything, the colleague who never stops talking and the colleague who asks you personal and inappropriate questions.

How can you persuade someone who argues with everything?

Certain people will argue and object to even the smallest changes in their workplace. This will often happen because these people fear change and therefore will say and do anything to keep the status quo.

Alternatively, a co-worker may be unhappy with their career, and may choose to take it out on everyone around them by being purposely obstinate.

First, find some thread of agreement with the person, to show them you understand their point of view. Next, when bringing up your suggestion, use “might” and “could” instead of “have to” and “should”.  Also, don’t get argumentative back.

This means avoiding name calling and it also could mean settling on a reasonable compromise wherever possible. And lastly, choose your battles. If they feel strongly about some minor issue, such as keeping hand lotion in the restrooms, maybe you should just let them have their way.

How can you shut up the person who talks too much?

Since most people who talk too much are either uncomfortable or insecure, you should express interest in his or her ideas and show agreement and compliment wherever possible.

This should relax the person and slow down their words per minute. If doing this doesn’t help, you may have to resort to less polite strategies such as ending the conversation or redirecting the topic to something that is more work-related.

Also, it's a good idea to have a zero-tolerance policy for work gossip. Gossip is a real work-killer plus it can destroy lives.

Lastly, how do you handle the colleague who asks you very personal and prying questions?

It’s important to remember that just because someone asks you a question, it doesn’t mean you have to answer it. Thankfully there are several ways to dodge a question without getting too riled up.

You can be direct and simply state that you are not comfortable answering the question. Or, you can use humor and throw back a one-liner. You could also question the questioner and ask why they would ask such a question. Lastly, you can choose to answer very vaguely such as, “What is my salary? I get by.”

In conclusion, when dealing with difficult people you can choose your battles, express interest, and use humor just to name a few strategies. With practice you can become an expert at diffusing difficult situations and soon you will be able to get through your workday with the least amount of fuss.


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