5 Easy / Not-so-Easy Tips for Working More Effectively with a Difficult Person
Do you have a colleague who is hard to work with, or even to be around? What’s going on? Is this person being mean to you, or just being true to his or her personal style? A style you definitely don’t like. How do you overcome this problem, so you can work together effectively?
I worked with a team member once who always needed to do things his way; he had to be different! And this really bothered me because I was all about following what we, as a team, had developed and agreed to. His approach really affected me, so what did I do? I blew up! NOT THE WISEST CHOICE.
Fortunately, we had a team leader who was a rock star. She sat down with us and helped us work through the situation. And today, I’d like to share with you what I learned from that experience: 5 tips that might help you too.
1. It’s okay not to like someone.
As they say, “you get to choose your friends, but you don’t choose your family”; well, I think we could include “you don’t get to choose your colleagues either”. We tend to like people who share some of our thinking, our values, our personality style, and more. That’s the easy part. But it’s much harder to appreciate someone who is so different from us that we don’t understand or like where they are coming from. It’s totally natural and normal to feel that way. The important thing is, how skilled can you get at working with them anyway?
But you do have to keep your emotions in check. Always choose diplomacy over an outburst. To help you do that, keep your focus on the issue to address, not the person who you should treat with respect. If you need spac e to compose yourself before dealing with an issue, go for a walk.
3. Ask for help and learn to understand this person.
Find someone you trust who can support you and help you gain a fresh perspective. Another’s input can bring objectivity and solutions for dealing with that “difficult” person. Sometimes talking to someone makes you feel heard so that you can move on. Maybe a team learning experience might help.
4. Try to Build a “Working” Relationship.
Be courageous and make room for small talk. Stop by their desk, and have a brief chat (start slowly – maybe at some point you will be able to have more meaningful conversations). This proactive and personal approach can bring your relationship to a different level where you might learn things that will surprise you and that you can appreciate… Or not! But at least, you are acting in a positive and constructive way.
5. Don’t Spread the Bad Stuff!
Do I really need to give you this advice? It’s okay to feel you don’t particularly like someone’s style or behavior, but gossiping about it is damaging. Have you noticed the more you hate something, the more you talk about it, and the more you see it in your life? When you feed your mind with negative thoughts and limiting beliefs, it brings out negative words and as a result, ineffective behaviors. Instead, look for small things you can appreciate from the working relationship. Feed your mind with positive and enlightening thoughts.
Recognize that working with a certain individual might be a challenge. But a challenge can also be a golden opportunity to rise above and grow yourself exponentially. Learn how to get along with that person. Learn to express your needs confidently. You will become a skilled relationship handler others will envy.
If you have a difficult colleague, you now have a few tips to try; see if your working relationship is easier to manage. As a friend of mine says, “It can’t hurt, and it might help!”
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In the meantime – Be the change you want to see in others!