Often we expect other people to be like us – to work, communicate, react and feel as we do. These kinds of expectations and assumptions set us up for delays, disappointment, frustration and failure.
Our workplaces’ stress the importance of ‘getting along’ and ‘working as a team’ yet in reality it’s not that easy. How many times have you heard others say?
- If only people would take ownership and admit when they’ve made a mistake.
- If only people would stop being moody and aggressive.
- If only people would do things when I ask them to.
- If only people would stop lying and passing the buck…
Why are people difficult? What factors could be behind the behaviour?
People adopt a certain style of behaviour because it gets them what they want. That behaviour serves them in some way and so they continue to do it. The very first thing to realise about people who make your life difficult is that you can’t change them. Not directly anyway. The best way to influence them to change their behaviour is to change the result they get when they act that way.
Most people find dealing with difficult people uncomfortable and stressful. When looking at how to best approach the situation, certain factors need to be taken into consideration.
- How long has the behaviour been tolerated and what patterns have been established? The longer the behaviour has been tolerated the more entrenched the pattern will be.
- What is the underlying need which could be causing the negative behaviour? Common needs are for attention or for control. What we reward will persist.
- Are there cultural and generational differences which need to be considered?
When dealing with difficult people it’s important to deal with facts and keep emotions and personality differences out of it. Deal with issues as they arise, before they become major roadblocks. Don’t be reactive. Instead, manage your response, seek to understand ‘where the other person is coming from’ and look to create a win/win situation.
Our ‘Dealing with Difficult People & Situations’ course provides step-by-step strategies which you can use to resolve conflict and create workable outcomes to difficult situations.
See our short courses for more information.