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How to Deal with Difficult Person at Work?

We all have people in our lives who are hard to understand. These are the people who test our patience and can make us lose it quickly. Experts in psychology and other fields have found that there is a better way to deal with them.

Everyone has a world in their head, problems, worries, and a story to tell, but some people don’t know how to deal with it all and take it out on the rest of the world. We’ve all had tyrannical bosses, people who yell at servers because their food took 30 seconds too long, people who always seem to bring a storm cloud with them, and toxic co-workers. It’s not easy to deal with the hard things in life.

Most of us know people who make us want to say something to them that will bring them back to reality and let them know they are out of control. However, for peace of mind, survival instinct, or not knowing what to do so as not to sound like an overly dramatic hysteric, we don’t say anything, and things stay the same until someone blows up and everything gets even worse. This is why it is hard to deal with complicated people.

But you can’t put out a fire with another fire. Studies from some of the best universities, like Berkeley and Stanford, have shown that the best way to deal with a difficult person and the anxiety they cause is to do what Mindfulness teaches, which is to be compassionate and take a few simple steps to be more tolerant and also to stop being the complicated person in the story.

There are also some hints in an article called “How to Deal with the Devil and Live to Tell About It” from the Harvard Program on Negotiation.

What does Harvard propose on how to deal with difficult person?

Prepare before

Dealing with Difficult People is a report from the Negotiation Program that has some strategies that can be very helpful.

This strategy means you shouldn’t make things up on the spot. Instead, you should know what you want to say, what the most important points are, and what the other person needs to hear, so you don’t get lost in the conversation or end up talking about things that aren’t important.

Set limits and communicate

Complicated people won’t try to read your mind or figure out what you want. This is why you need to set clear and healthy boundaries, but you also need to make sure that everyone knows those boundaries and knows that they aren’t up for discussion.

Leave witnesses

Harvard says to have witnesses if there are difficult people at work. It doesn’t mean you have to always call someone to listen to your conversations. Instead, it means you have to write everything down and give a copy to the right people. This way, you can avoid confusion, problems, and misunderstandings.

The power of not

We all need to learn how to say “no.” Being able to say “no” is part of being able to set limits and respect your time, space, and needs. The best thing you can do for your health is to learn to say no to things you don’t like, can’t do, don’t fit you, or don’t have time to do.

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