Difficult People Don’t Come with Warning Labels
Unfortunately, people do not come with warning labels, so we never know when they’re going to be difficult. And difficult people are everywhere!
Have you ever dealt with a difficult person at work? Have you ever dealt with a difficult person at home? OK, here’s the million dollar question: have you ever been difficult yourself? I know that I have never ever been difficult a day in my life … just ask my husband and I’m sure he’ll tell you.
Difficult people are everywhere. We can’t avoid them, so we might as well learn to live with them. We can’t change them. We can only change the way we deal with them.
The Cost of Difficult People
Problematic people not only make your blood pressure go up, they also cost organizations money. Recent exit interviews state that the number one reason people quit their jobs is because of problems with another person. It’s estimated that the cost of hiring and training a new employee is equivalent to a year’s salary. Right now it’s especially hard to find qualified employees.
Last week I was speaking at a state apartment association and attendees were asking about how to deal with difficult renters who had unrealistic expectations. Because of interest rates, many people have sold their homes and moved into apartments temporarily. They become irate at everyday noises in the apartments surrounding them, such as arguing and walking. Rental Managers are stressed out with the growing number of complaining and angry people. The emotional cost of difficult people takes its toll also.
How the Virtual Workplace has Affected Relationships
As more associations and members move back to in person and hybrid workplaces, we need to re-acclimate ourselves to getting along in the workplace.
As more associations and members move back to in person and hybrid workplaces, we need to re-acclimate ourselves to getting along in the workplace. Extroverts have desperately missed the comradery of their colleagues. Introverts may have enjoyed their quiet home office. Virtual communication and creating home offices has been a challenge for many. The Pew Research Center states that when people work from home 60% say they feel less connected to their co-workers.
This past year I’ve given presentations and trainings, virtually and in person, to associations and corporations about dealing with difficult people, stress, and presentation skills. One issue that has come up time and again is connection. How do we meaningfully connect with our members, our clients, and our team? How do we connect virtually and how can we strengthen our relationships in person?
At Association Forum’s SmartTech conference in March, I presented “TECHniques: Presenting Information to Influence” and a key question was how to strengthen rapport. There are some definite techniques to build rapport both virtually and in person. What’s most important is focusing on them, it’s all about them! Hiding your self view if you are on camera will help with that. Looking directly into the camera when you are speaking will improve your connection to others. Having your setting on speaker view will help with fatigue.
Let’s address how we can deal with the troublesome people we work with and reframe our thinking about them.
Think of People as DIFFERENT, not Difficult
People are driven by different needs. Some of these needs are to: get it right, get it done, get along and get appreciated. Each of these types become difficult when their needs are not being met. Focus on the similarities with the person, not the differences. And if you can see the world from their point of view and speak their “language” you can diffuse conflicts.
What Are You Learning?
There is an ancient proverb that says “We have no friends, we have no enemies, we have only teachers. We are all teachers, the question is not whether we will teach, but what.” Think about what you are learning from your difficult person- empathy, compassion, patience, forgiveness, understanding?
Thinking someone is difficult is just your point of view. They may be difficult for you but get along fine with other people. Even the nicest person in the world can become difficult in certain situations. Ten percent of our life is what actually happens to us. Ninety percent is how we perceive and react to what happens. How can you change your perception of a person or situation to create more harmony?
Remember- the only thing we can change is our behavior or point of view. I wish you enhanced relationships in your workplace.
Have you turned around a difficult work relationship in the past? Tell us about it in MyForum.