Dealing with Difficult People


Do you have a colleague who never fails to frustrate you? Some of my clients are struggling with this very issue, and I’ve noticed that they do something interesting. Rather than expecting the other person to behave as he always has, my client shows up with hope that today will be different and this person just won’t do the things that get under her skin. I hate to squash that kind of optimism, but in this case the evidence is overwhelming that the behavior will likely be as maddening as it has been.

However, if instead you expect the same behavior, you may be less likely to get “triggered.”  In other words, you may take her actions less personally and be more open to engaging in a different way.

To take yourself out of the predictable cycle of how your interactions unfold, try a new approach with him. Take a look at these three questions to help you do so:

  • How much time or energy do you want to invest in changing things?

  • What small change can you make to how you engage with him, so that you get a better outcome?

  • How much dread and negative self-talk are you holding onto? What do you typically say to yourself? Remember that what you say to yourself can make the situation ten times worse.

Remember that slight tweaks can shift the dynamics, so it may not take a lot to improve the situation. It’s critical to be clear on how you want to show up, regardless of how the other person does.

So, if you’re dealing with a difficult colleague, take a few minutes this week to answer the questions above. You may realize that a small change in how you behave or what you tell yourself, can make a huge difference and take a lot of the angst out of the situation.