Embracing Civility

The REAL Healthcare Reform!

Category: Civility Training

8 Ways to Deal with a Difficult Co-Worker

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.”
  7. 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?
  8. 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.

Download the Activity!

Drill Down to Basics

basic-needs
I heard the yelling long before I saw the resident and her Aide struggling their way to the dining room.

I was sitting in a small med room just off the dining room in the locked Memory Care unit of an Assisted Living Facility.

The Aide seemed to have everything under control, so I waited and listened.

The resident was agitated.  The Aide spoke in a soothing voice.

The resident started ripping off her clothes.  The Aide gently re-routed her to a bathroom for privacy.

The resident screamed profanities from the bathroom.  The Aide waited patiently with her.

The resident tried to hit the Aide.  The Aide stood at the door and asked her co-worker to “bring the tray.”

A breakfast tray was handed off to the bathroom.

I could hear the Aide calmly say through the resident’s shrieks and screams, “Here’s your bacon.  You love bacon.”  And, “Oooh, you have a biscuit this morning.  Wanna try a bite?”

The cursing and shouting slowed, and then stopped.

A few minutes later, a quiet (and fully dressed) resident and her Aide emerged from the bathroom and sat down at a table to finish breakfast.

When the episode was over, I couldn’t help but think about this commercial!

In the old days, this type of resident behavior may have resulted in some sort of restraint.  Today, most healthcare environments are restraint-free.  That means we need to have more creative solutions!

In this case, the Aide used a method I call, “Drilling Down to Basics.”  The idea is that when a resident becomes agitated or combative, there’s a good chance that one of his or her “basic needs” is not being met.  The basic needs are hungry, thirsty, tired, lonely or in some sort of pain.  So the caregiver identifies the basic need that is not being met and meets it!

In this case, the resident was hungry.

As the episode resolved, the mood in the room returned to normal and everyone went about their business.

But that’s when I started thinking about how this may relate to incivility and dealing with difficult co-workers or your own difficult behaviors.

The resident in this scenario had Alzheimer’s disease which made it nearly impossible for her to express her needs.  People without AD can’t use that excuse!  But it’s possible that the same dynamic is in play.

I can’t speak for other people, but I know for a fact:

  • I’m grumpier when I’m hungry. 
  • I’m shorter-tempered when I’m tired. 
  • And I can be downright mean when I’m in pain. 

And to make matters worse, it’s difficult be objective about yourself and connect these behaviors to your own basic needs that are not being met.

So here’s my challenge to you:

The next time someone is being rude, mean or raging-on irrationally, remember the Aide in the Memory Care unit.  Stay calm.  Speak kindly and gently.  Remain patient.  Then try to get to the root of the problem.

Offer to get the person a snack.  Suggest they take a break, if possible.  Ask her if she’s feeling okay.  There’s a good chance one of these suggestions will hit her right where she needs it.

If you find yourself being rude or irrational, be your own Aide.  Step back and assess your own basic needs.  Take care of yourself.

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  • Engaging classroom activities.
  • Enlightening PowerPoint presentations.
  • Thought provoking discussion questions.
  • Simple tips for improving participation in discussions.
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Hating Your Job? Are You the Workplace Grouch?

“So, how was your day?” is a question you may be asked, well, every day. Do you answer honestly? Do you gloss over the stressful moments and face-palms? Or do you answer by focusing almost entirely on them? Maybe you just respond with something like “It’s good, now that it’s over.”

The vast majority of workers are not satisfied with their jobs. This is not necessarily a matter of the grass being greener somewhere -anywhere- else. The overwhelming issue contributing to dissatisfaction is not usually compensation, job duties, career opportunities, or even hours worked.

Taken alone, devoid of all the aggravating accoutrements, you might actually enjoy the job you hold. After all, didn’t you seek out and actively pursue this position? Remember how great the first few days on the job felt? You probably felt proud of yourself for landing that first interview, then beating out the competition and telling all your family and friends about how the hiring manager loved your resume/work ethic/test score/shoes.

Well, what happened? Fast forward five years: you’ve been slogging it out for what seems like a lifetime and dread walking in the door every morning. You snatch glimpses of the clock at work and sigh when only a few minutes pass between glances. No amount of will or wishing makes it tick any faster.

In many cases you can blame it on the workload, low pay, lack of promotion potential, and weak coffee in the break-room. But do those things really make you loathe your job? Lots of people love their low paying jobs. Lots of people work hard in dead end jobs. Lots of people suffer weak coffee. I’m not sure that’s why the workforce is not satisfied.

But there’s another big one: what about your workplace environment? Your coworkers, your customers, your bosses. How do they make you feel? Do you look forward to seeing them every day? If you’re like most, you have a work friend or two, and most everyone else you can stand, at least for a while. But there’s always one or two unkind folks that just drag the whole place down. Or what about that spiteful customer that just loves to watch you squirm? Doesn’t that make you just want to throw whatever’s in your arms straight to the ground and stomp out for good?

I submit thus the reason why you hate your job. Negativity has struck, at least in your own head, but maybe even the entire workplace is infected with it (kind of like the stomach bug passed around at the last Christmas party).  Maybe (probably), you and everyone around you already know this. So, what’s the big deal? Isn’t everyone negative at work? That may seem to be a legitimate excuse. Everyone hates their job, so why shouldn’t I? Guess what? You are part of the problem!

funny_cartoon_new_year_resolutions_calvin_and_hobbes

Well, here’s your dose of antidote to the poison that ails you. Civility. Yes, civility. What is it? And should it matter in the slightest? Most people equate it to being polite and meek. Something expected of you as a child. But that is not really accurate- it is a mature and self-respecting state of being. Here are a few other things it isn’t: a desire to create a faux pleasant atmosphere at your own expense. Civility is not about letting aggressive people stand on your exposed soft parts.

A couple more things that it is: self-control, self-reflection, maturity, taking responsibility for yourself, managing your export. Export in this sense means the manner in which you present yourself, speak to others and non-verbally communicate. Imagine how much better you would feel if you controlled the environment around you, especially pertaining to those negative people that bring you down. They’ve turned you to the dark side! Get back on track by retaking the initiative and choosing your own path.

I don’t have a personally relatable anecdote for each and every person out there who needs to learn or become reacquainted with civility. But I have a guide for you, and a good one at that. It’s called Get the Grouch Out! How Embracing Civility Can Banish Bad Behaviors and Create a More Respectful and Productive Workplace.

grouch_frontcover

Here are some of the things you should be able to internalize and practice by reading this guidebook:

  • Learn to self-reflect and self-manage.
  • Focus on your integrity.
  • Recognize how you present yourself to others.
  • Control your negative moods.
  • Deal with difficult people.
  • Maintain professional relationships.
  • Communicate properly with a team.
  • Fix structural workplace problems from within.

As a whole, the guide will show you that to empower yourself with personal control is to be in a civil state of being. It shows that adhering to a method of personal control and owning your own path to happiness and success is a gift everyone can and should give to themselves right now. Go get it for yourself now on Kindle, and take your workplace back!

THANK YOU! Your gift is on the way!

thanks

Thank you to all of the dedicated nurses who participated in our Nurses’ Week Giveaway!  Your responses were uplifting and inspiring!

If you completed the first 2 steps (posted a comment and sent us your address) then you can expect to receive your free, signed copy of The REAL Healthcare Reform in 2 to 3 weeks.

If you work with a terrific CNA, check back with us the week of June 13-20 for National Nursing Assistant Week.  We’ll do another giveaway, but this one will be for nursing assistants!

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