How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

Interpersonal relationships can influence consistently the effectiveness of work and well-being of employees as well as their psychological state. However, often the problem of the formation of positive interpersonal relationships arises, especially when there are some difficult people within an organization, who ignore interests and needs of other employees. In fact, it is possible to find such difficult people practically in any organization. Many employs believe the communication and mutual work with these people are impossible, but, in actuality, it is necessary to learn how to deal with difficult people. If a person knows how to behave and communicate with difficult people he/she will hardly have any serious difficulties with these people, though it does not mean that this person will be able to establish friendly relationships with difficult people. However, many people do not know how to deal with difficult people. In this respect, it is possible to refer to D.R. McKay’s article “The Five Difficult People You Meet at Work and How to Get along with Them” and to J. Horsch’s article “How to Work with Difficult People at Work”.
In fact, the two aforementioned articles suggest quite different approaches to the problem of relationships with difficult people. D. R. McKay studies different types of difficult people and develops recommendations concerning each type, taking into consideration specific traits of character of each type. To put it more precisely the author distinguishes the chatterbox as one of the types of difficult people. Dealing with a chatterbox, McKay recommends avoiding insulting the co-worker and, instead of avoiding the communication with person pointblank, that is not always possible, the author recommends to put the blame on you and explain the co-worker that you have problems with concentration while listening to her interesting stories. In addition, it is possible to limit the communication with this person and to have a lunch once a week for instance.
Another type of difficult people is a gossiper who is always gossiping and discussing various stories related to other people. The author recommends changing the communication style with this person and when he/she start gossiping it is necessary to explain this person that you are not interested in discussing other’s people life behind their back. The same advice the author gives in relation to complainers. To put it more precisely, he simply recommends changing the subject of the conversation in order to avoid listening complaints. Also, there may be delegators who attempt to delegate their jobs and duties to you. In such a situation, it is necessary to explain them that you have your own job to do and duties to fulfill. Finally, there are credit gabbers who are always borrowing money. In relation to this people, it is necessary to refuse to help them out when they ask for help constantly.
Alternatively, J. Horsch recommends changing your own attitude to work and difficult people. the author argues that self-perception is very important and the way we perceive other people may be even more important. This is why it is necessary to accept difficult people as they are and develop assertiveness in your own forces that will help to avoid conflicts with difficult people.
In such a way, it is possible to use various strategies and approaches to difficult people, but, above all, it is necessary to develop flexible communication style in order to be able to maintain normal relationships with all people at work. Otherwise, you risk to become a difficult person for them.

Horsch’s J. (2008). How to Work with Difficult People at Work. Retrieved October 11, 2008 from
McKay, D.R. (2008). The Five Difficult People You Meet at Work and How to Get along with Them. Retrieved October 11, 2008 from
Schein, E. H. (1999). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Schmitt, B. and Simonson, A. (1997). In Marketing Aesthetics: The strategic management of brands, identity, and image, New York: The Free Press.

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