Dealing with difficult people (Part 1)
We all judge others. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes we don’t. Hopefully, when we get it wrong, we are able to admit this to ourselves.
However, judgemental people will never admit that any of their judgements are faulty. These people only see things only in black and white. They’re always right and, if you have a different opinion, well, you’re an idiot. Judgemental people never consider the possibility that the other person (you) may have had a bad day (but, don’t we all!). Nor do they give you credit for the fact you probably perform admirably, maybe under difficult circumstances, most of the time.
People who always complain about their boss or their workplace
Sometimes those judgmental people are also the office whingers. Whingers are the bane of every workplace. These are the people who’ve always got something critical to say about their boss, workplace or co-workers. You’ve probably heard their griping many times. Having heard their complaints for the umpteenth time, you feel like telling them to “get lost”.
A better solution: tell them you’ve got work to get on with, and you can’t stop to talk right now. Or “Yes, you raised that topic with me three times yesterday and several times last week, I gave you my answer, and I need to get on with my work now.”
Hopefully, these whingers will get the message!
As if whingeing wasn’t bad enough, sometimes the whingers (the complainers) are also needy. We all have needs and sometimes we don’t know how to deal with our needs effectively. However, there’s a big difference between needing help and being needy. Needy people always want your help and reassurance. This is even when they have sought the same reassurance many times before.
Solution: If they interrupt you, and it’s bothering you, still act impeccably. Tell them politely that you’ve got work you need to get done. Don’t be too empathetic, and don’t let them take up too much of your time.
People who treat you like you’re stupid
Let’s say you’ve known something (X) to be a fact for many years and they now tell you that X is Y. It can be tempting to get angry or lash out, but don’t do it. Calmly restate the fact that you know what you’re talking about. If they insist that they are right, calmly restate a second time. “I’ve known X to be a fact for years.” Take a deep breath and either move away from your desk, or sigh and get on with your work.
If you’re still finding it hard to handle one of these people, it’s important to understand who has the problem. It’s not you!
While people like this may not have a problem with their IQ, they certainly have a very low EQ. Some people just aren’t capable of dealing with others in a sensitive, empathetic manner.
Abusive people like this will not change—ever. It’s not your problem, it’s theirs.
Another type of person difficult to live with a selfish person. Selfish folk are consumed with their wants and desires. They will go to any length to achieve their goals, even if this includes stepping over others and engaging in targeted workplace sabotage.
So how do you deal with these unappealing individuals? Please do your best to surround yourself in a bubble, so their manipulations don’t permeate your emotional world.
Also, don’t let yourself act as an unpaid therapist who gives and gives in the face of their demands. Being too giving can cause explosive resentment and anger when the giver finds that their own needs haven’t been met or have been trampled over. This level of resentment can easily escalate into conflict.
This is sometimes called a covert contract. Unlike a legal contract, where parties agree on the terms, in a covert contract, the terms exist only in the mind of the aggrieved. But unlike an oral or written contract where an aggrieved party might secure a satisfactory resolution through the courts, the holder of a covert contract has no means of redress. They’re left with a toxic legacy of anger, resentment and unmet expectations. Just don’t enter into such a ‘contract’ by imagining that a selfish person will change.
The safest option is not to be too generous to a selfish person. This doesn’t mean you have to be unfriendly, you just need to be authentic and clear about your own boundaries. Don’t expect a selfish person to change. It won’t happen!
People who express contempt
Another person you can’t change is someone who displays contempt towards you.
Contempt can be verbal, or it can be expressed through contemptuous body language. Whether a person shows contempt because of something that has happened, or because they imagine everyone else is beneath them, you are unlikely to change such a person.
In a situation like this, aim to rise above it. If you can’t rise above it, it may be time to seek help.
When dealing with all these types of person, remember that you can only change yourself. Avoid negative people as much as you can. Watch your body language–are you walking tall? It’s important to both feel and look confident, particularly around negative people who pull you down. If they’ve done it once, there’ll be a next time, and a time after.
Try not to be around when it happens!