They might have told you differently when you graduated high school, but the fact is that dealing with unpleasant people is a fact of life. Regardless of age, you will have to deal with difficult people in multiple roles and environments. In the business world, unpleasant people can be a particular problem. You may have to deal with the same problem every day, or they may be in an important position for the future of your company. SNI’s Conflict Resolution Training focuses on how Dealing with Difficult People. Learning a few tips for managing interactions with unpleasant people can make your life a lot easier and improve your business prospects.
- Accept the problem. Some people are just awful to deal with, and there’s no more to it than that. There are plenty of different kinds of unpleasant people in the workplace. Denying the problem or trying to make it your own fault solves nothing and can be detrimental to your ability to deal with it. Unpleasant people don’t have to make your life miserable. Don’t be afraid to accept that they are the problem, and go from there.
- Don’t get defensive. Many unpleasant people thrive on putting the blame on others – including you. Although it may be incredibly difficult to resist the urge to defend yourself, it’s ultimately the best choice. Your self-defense will have no effect on them, as they live in a world where you are always to blame. Getting defensive will usually have the reverse effect by making you appear guilty.
- Don’t lose your temper. In work situations, losing your temper is unprofessional. No matter how infuriating a coworker is acting, it’s never appropriate to yell or act out in anger. Unpleasant people are not worth your emotional response. Don’t allow yourself to get too angry. Stay out of the emotional situation they are trying to create with you.
- Control your interactions. Seeing a difficult person every day can be frustrating. However, some people are only unpleasant in certain situations. If possible, avoid these situations. If not, avoid the person as much as you can while remaining professional.
- Avoid one-on-one encounters. Some difficult people are explicitly trying to bully you, and they will try to get you alone to do so more effectively. Avoid this in any way possible. Bringing in a third party can help diffuse any situation with an unpleasant person. Nothing results from an open conflict beyond making their behavior more unpleasant.
- If necessary, tell someone. Some workplace interactions are just unpleasant. However, you have a right to feel safe and comfortable at work. Talk to HR if an unpleasant person goes too far.