Problem interactions in the workplace is a subject I’m sure we have all encountered at
one time or another. Who hasn't been intimidated by someone, had the displeasure of knowing a back-stabber, or encountered a know-it-all? But how do we deal with these individuals?
This article will
take a look at the many different “styles” that difficult people present in the
work place along with some simple strategies on how to counter their behaviors. When I presented
this to a group of hospital managers and directors a few years ago, I noticed
heads nodding in agreement as I described how various individuals can
negatively impact their peers and work environment. It appeared that it’s not
too hard to notice who engages in certain behaviors that push the buttons of
their coworkers. Before I begin, I would like to give credit to Muriel Solomon
for her book Working with Difficult People in which I derived much of
the information I will be conveying as well as other business resources I have
studied and researched.
Dealing with Hostile and Angry
People – Bullies and Intimidators
habitually cruel – threatening your present and future. They appear
self-confident and try to punish you with their air of superiority. They try to
push your “buttons’ in order to rile and upset you.
Bullies lose their power if you do not cower. Hold your ground and maintain
your professionalism in the workplace.
Intimidators: gain their power by implying that they can
hurt and embarrass you. They may be threatened by you and feel a need to gain
control over you.
this is the time to be assertive. Try to have a talk with the intimidating
individual to see if you can “clear the air” regarding the issue.
Dealing with Deceitful and
Underhanded People– Hypocrites, Back-stabbers, and Underminers
Hypocrites: are two-faced double dealers who
purposely misrepresent or mislead you.
your goal is to get straight answers. Ask questions that require direct
answers and put the hypocrit on the spot.
Back-stabbers: are phonies who will be nice to your
face, but very critical of you behind your back.
confront back-stabbers calmly and let them know that you heard they are the
ones who made disparaging comments about you. This should stop them.
Underminers: undercut your efforts and set you up to
document all your interactions with the underminer as well as aspects of the
work they are trying to discredit you with if you need to defend yourself in the future.
Dealing with Rude and
Abrasive People– Interrupters
Interrupters: rudely break into your discussion,
burst into your office uninvited, or pester you while you are on the phone.
you may need to interrupt the interrupter and tell them firmly you cannot speak
to them now.
Instigators: are troublemakers who often feel bored,
bitter, or restricted. They twist the truth and enjoy stirring up others so
they will not have to act alone.
try not to get caught up in their games and rely on the policies and procedures of your organization to neutralize their behaviors.
Dealing with Critical and
Judgmental People – Complainers,
Gossipers, and Withholders
Complainers: are chronic gripers who will grumble
publicly or behind others backs about anything they find bothersome.
if you find yourself in the path of a complainer, politely excuse yourself and
let them know you have “urgent” work to attend to.
Gossipers: are “rumor mongers” who spread unverified
facts and stories of questionable origin. They also will morph the truth in a
way that they can control.
Startegy – you
never know what part of a gossipers story is true. If you need to know what’s
really going on, verify the information from a more reliable source.
Withholders: hold back telling you important
information you may need in an attempt to feel more in control and powerful or
as a way to sabotage your work.