You come across all kinds of different people in your job! And different people have different personalities!
Your “personality” is a combination of all your mannerisms, quirks and behavior patterns that make up your character. It’s what makes you “You!” How you see the world, your attitude, thoughts, and feelings are all part of your personality.
Personality is usually formed at an early age. We take cues from our family, friends, teachers and other influential people. We try out different attitudes and behaviors and we stick with what works!
- People with healthy personalities are able to cope with normal stresses and have no trouble communicating their needs and forming relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.
- People who tend to be “difficult” when faced with stress may have trouble communicating their needs, forming relationships, or getting what they want out if life.
Getting along with all kinds of people (with a variety of different personalities) is part of your job. That means, whether you like it or not, you have to find a way to handle people with difficult personalities.
HERE’S THE HARD TRUTH: No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER change other people!
The key to dealing with difficult people is changing the way you react to the situation! Your attitude and communication skills will make all the difference!
Here are 8 things you can do when faced with a difficult person at work:
- Keep your cool. Whether your co-worker is yelling, complaining, criticizing or blaming, just stand still, looking directly at the person…and wait. This gives the person a chance to get all their anger out.
- Don’t be the “floor show.” If a co-worker wants to squabble in front of the team, calmly say, “I want to hear everything you have to say, but not here where it might disturb others. Let’s go somewhere private.”
- Take ten. Remember that old “rule” about counting to ten? It really does work. If you’re having trouble with #1 (keeping your cool), remove yourself from the situation, breathe slowly and count to ten. When you’re ready, go back and handle the situation.
- Be the boss. Don’t allow other people to control your moods. This gives others entirely too much power over you. So, if you’re in a good mood, don’t let someone else’s grouchy attitude bring you down.
- Focus on actions. When dealing with a difficult person, focus on the particular behaviors you don’t like…rather than just labeling the person. For example, instead of saying, “You’re always so rude” try saying, “I feel hurt when you ignore me.”
- Be your own cheerleader. The next time you have to work with a difficult person, give yourself a little “pep talk.” Tell yourself, “I’m ready for this. I can handle whatever happens today. I will not get upset, no matter what.”
- Play it back in your head. If you saw a videotape of yourself from a recent confrontation with a difficult person, would you be embarrassed by your own behavior? If so, how would you like to see yourself behave?
- Save your strength. Don’t waste your energy trying to change people who behave in a difficult manner. Instead, work on changing the way you react to their behavior.
HEY TRAINERS AND EDUCATORS! Here’s an activity from the Instructor’s Manual for “The REAL Healthcare Reform Civility Training Program. Use this activity to practice ways to resolve common work related conflicts.