Working with The Difficult Ones: Coping Strategies to Defuse Their Power
If you haven’t run into them, you are sure to do so somewhere along the way in your working career. They are the people you talk about over dinner with your roommate or spouse, the ones that give you that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see them coming, and the people that you believe stand in the way of happiness in your career. They are The Difficult Ones.
They come in all forms, shapes and sizes. The worst is when they assume the role of your boss. In fact, according to research, having a difficult boss is the number one reason for leaving a job! The Difficult Ones can be on teams with you, they might be working for you or they might inhabit a desk near you. The Difficult Ones make your working life miserable and you might even have nightmares about them, but in your daydreams you find that magic bullet to make them different – and not so difficult.
Instead of bemoaning The Difficult Ones, let’s look at five steps you can take to minimize their impact on you. You might not make them any less difficult for others, but at least you can change how badly they affect your life!
- Redefine “difficult”. Think about this – there is no one definition of difficult. You may think the loud, boisterous colleague is annoying to everyone. Someone else might find him or her to be “engaging, and exciting”. You might think the serious, quiet, critical boss is harsh and mean. Someone else might say they like his or her “thoughtful nature”. The reality is that our view is subjective. Instead of saying they are “difficult”, redefine the behavior in a more objective and non-judgmental light.
- Watch your triggers. If the behavior bugs you, why does it bug you and what do you do in response to it? The person who cuts their nails next to you, or speaks too loudly on the phone or insults you in the break room, is getting to you because they can. Recognize how you think about the behavior and how you process it. What do you say to yourself? Catch yourself next time and choose not to respond.
- Develop coping skills. You might have a person who cuts their nails next to you driving you crazy. You sit and cringe at the sound with each and every snippet. It’s a funny thing, but as much as things drive us crazy we consent to be bothered by them. Next time, have a plan. Get up and go to the ladies’ or men’s room and just sit there until the cutting is done! You actually don’t have to subject yourself to most behaviors. You can almost always remove yourself from the situation.
- Develop the Plexiglas approach. If you can’t remove yourself physically, imagine a Plexiglas enclosure that surrounds you as you move throughout your workday. Picture the difficult behavior going on outside of you, but it can’t penetrate your Plexi! See the difficult behavior bouncing off and going right back to the person creating it. Don’t let it in!
- Have positive visual reminders. Love your kids? Adore your dog? Pine for the trip to Aruba you took five years ago? Get pictures and reminders of the wonderful things in your life. Put them on a Skinit for your phone, or as screen savers on your computer or even as hard copies to carry around with you. Whenever the person who is difficult starts to get to you, focus your attention on that which you love. Move your mind to something positive.
You can’t change other people’s behavior, in most cases, but you can change your reaction to it. You always have the choice to quit, but as long as you keep working with The Difficult Ones, make the choices that allow you to work blissfully alongside them.
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About Beverly D Flaxington
Beverly D. Flaxington, the Human Behavior Coach ™ is a two-time bestselling and Gold-award winning author, is an international speaker, an accomplished consultant, hypnotherapist, personal and career coach, bestselling author, college professor, corporate trainer, facilitator, behavioral expert, entrepreneur and business development expert. Beverly’s knowledge of human behavior and the most effective ways to make change…