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How To Work With A Difficult Person

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This post is for managers and leaders. More specifically, it’s about how to work with a difficult person on your team. We’ve all had experiences working with someone who can be challenging to deal with in one way or another. Sometimes you find yourself asking: “Why are they so difficult?” Or “How do I work well with them?” The truth is that there are often many reasons why people act the way they do at work, including past experiences like childhood trauma or mental health issues that may affect their behavior now. But even if we don’t know what caused this individual’s behavior, it’s still important for us to figure out how best to manage them and keep everyone as productive as possible!

1. Don’t take it personally

One of the best things you can do for yourself is not take it personally when someone on your team becomes difficult. That may sound easier said than done, but people experiencing mental health issues or trauma usually have different filters and triggers that make them react in ways we might not expect.

Many people have been through traumatic experiences. For example, they’ve lost a loved one or gone through some sort of physical abuse. The difficult person on your team may be dealing with something in their past, and they’re not able to handle it well.

So when someone becomes difficult, don’t take it personally! It may have nothing to do with you or what’s going on at work.

You might be able to help them by asking them what they’re struggling with. It’s a great way to show that you’re listening and making them feel like they have your full attention.

2. Be patient and gracious

Being patient and gracious while working with difficult people at work is vital. Remember that this person is likely struggling with a lot of things outside of work. When they’re difficult to be around, it can be tempting to want them gone from your team or company. Yet, in some cases, the best way for you and those on your team is to help guide their behavior in a productive direction to have better success.

Be patient

It takes time and perseverance with even the most challenging co-workers; remember that many people are trying hard but still need guidance to succeed! Did you know that the skills you need to develop a successful life are like any other skill? They can be learned and practiced over time.

Be gracious

Be gracious when you disagree with someone. When working with a difficult person, it’s important to take a deep breath and pause before responding. Pausing will give you time to think about your goal for the conversation – whether that’s resolving an issue, understanding their perspective, or just disagreeing with them respectfully.

Next, try to understand where they’re coming from by asking questions like “What led you to do this?” And “Why are you so upset about this?” After all, everyone has good intentions, even if we don’t agree on how those intentions were executed in practice!

If someone disagrees with us because of something our company did wrong (like forgetting something), apologize sincerely and offer steps we can take so the mistake won’t happen again.

Give people feedback privately when possible instead of through public shaming, like in a team meeting.

3. Focus on your strengths

Make Decisions That Are Timely And Well-Informed

Managing a team at times is hard. To add to that, working with a difficult person seems, at times, impossible. You may even start to question yourself as a leader. Now would be the time to focus on your strengths as the leader of your team. You may need to reflect on what you are good at and how your skills are best utilized.

Once you figure out your strengths as a leader, then think about which of the difficult person’s traits would work well with those qualities

It could seem like they “match” in some aspects but not others

*For example: if this person is good at taking the initiative or being creative, find ways to harness that energy, so it works for them rather than against them

Be mindful of their weaknesses, however. If they struggle with self-regulation or consistency, do something to mitigate these difficulties through coaching or other strategies such as setting up systems around these weak spots, so they don’t become an issue again.

4. Stay calm, cool, and collected

A difficult person at work can almost bring out the worst in us. Let’s face it, we’re all human, and it’s natural to be frustrated or annoyed when someone behaves in a less than constructive way. Sometimes, the difficult person favors us by bringing out what our worst self might do otherwise. But before you allow yourself to become reactive, take some time to collect your thoughts.

– What are they trying to say?

– How am I reacting?

– Am I being defensive as well as aggressive?

It can feel like an uphill battle, but if you want to work with that difficult person, try not to engage on their level of difficulty! It’ll only lead down a rabbit hole where everyone loses (except for maybe them). Stay calm and collected so that you maintain your team’s mural.

5. Keep conversations focused on the other person

We often tend to respond in a defensive way when someone is rude or difficult. But this only escalates the conflict and can create an even bigger problem for you. Instead, try asking questions that help keep conversations focused on understanding them better. What makes me worth talking about? Why does it seem like we don’t see eye-to-eye? These are open-ended questions that will hopefully lead to more productive dialogue.” Keeping the conversation focused on the other person will help you understand what they’re going through, making it easier to work with them.

6. Give feedback in a constructive way that can be heard and understood

Give feedback in a constructive way that can be heard and understood

Constructively give feedback at all times. This is an area where I see a lot of people mess up.

Do you know someone difficult to work with? You might be reading this post because your co-worker’s behavior makes it challenging to get anything done around them for some reason or another.

This post is for managers and leaders dealing with what can feel like an impossible situation at times – how do we manage those employees who seem so stuck in their ways? Who has made excuses from day one of why things will never change? And the answer may not always lie within us as the manager trying to figure out just what motivates these types of individuals.

The truth is there often many reasons why people act the way they do. However, what neuro-science says about that is that people with traumatic pasts, depression, or anxiety are more likely to be difficult.

Who is most affected by this? Well, it’s you as the leader who needs to find a way of being firm and fair while not creating an environment for them that will never change. How do we manage these types of individuals in our teams? To improve your chances at success – even when they seem like lost causes – follow this six-step formula, and you’ll have a better chance.


It’s not always easy to work with a difficult person. And when you’re under pressure, it can be tempting to lash out or get frustrated and upset in your response. But the fact is that different people have different ways of working – just like we all communicate differently! So if you want to have any hope at improving communication between yourself and an “uncooperative” colleague, try these tips for dealing with them:  Don’t take things personally; stay calm, cool, and collected during the conversation; focus on your strengths, so they don’t feel threatened by yours; keep conversations focused on the other person rather than talking about what YOU think/feel/want-this will make them more receptive to feedback.

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