Working with Difficult People

Friday, August 11, 2023

I know we are all faced with challenging behavior in the workplace. I hope this episode is helpful. 

We've all been there. We have a job to do which includes working with difficult people. Today's Sunday Seven is my way of sharing what I learned from recent and past experiences. These learnings come from a heart that understands people are not their actions. They probably have challenges I'm not aware of. Still, all I'm left with are these behaviors and my response. 

1• Sloppy - I find working with people who do sloppy work frustrating. I'm not a perfectionist. I make mistakes. I own them and I proceed to do things in a better way. I sometimes work with people who offer sloppy work constantly. I am learning to conduct communications in a cool manner. There is no reason to be mad. When I'm cool, I can calmly set a course of action. I am learning to ask questions so I can understand how we can proceed. The goal is to find the correct course of action. If the sloppiness persists, I think of a long-term solution. Sometimes, I bite the bullet and keep pressing on. Other times, we finish the project and move on to a more efficient way of working. 

2• Rude - I honestly decided I will not allow rude behavior to infect my behavior. Just because someone is rude, it does not mean I need to react with corresponding or superior rudeness. I go back to the teachings of my parents. I think about the polite and professional person I am. I proceed to use this behavior accordingly. This is difficult and it takes a while to implement but it is very effective. It brings peace of mind. I want to sow a polite tone and courteous behavior, no matter how rude the other person is. 

3• Tricky - The best way to find tricky behavior is with the truth. The truth is, I am a professional who is available to serve and help. The truth is, no matter how tough the project, we will follow the way of integrity and we will stick with it. This approach brings me professional assurance. I often involve my boss in the conversation when I am involved with professionals that display tricky behavior. I want someone else to know the whole truth and to see every interaction for what it is. 

4• Lazy - I have a deep feeling of dissatisfaction when I work with people who display lazy behavior. My solution is to be diligent. I believe that "Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth" Proverbs 10:4 (NIV). I remember my boundaries. I am not responsible for another's demeanor. I am fully responsible for mine. I persist in diligence. I aim to do my job so well that there will be no doubt of my dedication and effort. Diligence speaks for herself. I want mine to shout out loud. 

5• Dishonest - In the past, this has affected me the most. When I notice I am working with a person who engages in dishonest behavior, I experience a deeper sense of anger. In the past, I became angry and said with a growl in my voice: "this is not right!" I left that job site fulminating. Because I don't want to be associated with dishonest behavior, I report it. Someone in authority needs to know what is happening. If someone is enticing me to be dishonest with them, I say a firm no. You won't believe how often I am faced with this type of soft dishonesty behavior. My firm foundation is in integrity. I will not support dishonesty. 

6• Negative - People who display negative are everywhere. Some are more chronic than others. In a weightlifting analogy, it is as if the negativity is a 300 lb bar. They want you to hold it while running a 10K. It can't be done. I remember my boundaries. People have the right to be negative because we are blessed with free speech. I have the right not to allow their words to weigh me down. I can physically separate myself from them. I can clear the air with a neutralizing positive comment. I can smile and get back to my job. As Zig Zigler said, positive thinking doesn't guarantee success, but it does increase your chances of success by giving you the right frame of mind. It is possible to be armed with the right frame of mind when faced with negativity in a professional setting. 

7• Insecure - Working with people who display insecure behavior is something you can fully navigate and manage. Remember that often, these souls are projecting their rage for lacking confidence. If you are a naturally confident person, you know what I mean. It is as if you are the target for attacks, criticism, and even the occasional negative professional review. There is a difference between working with an insecure peer and an insecure supervisor. In both cases, it is helpful to stand in your confidence. You cannot allow the constant projection of insecurity to affect you. You also cannot fix that professional. Ultimately, the professional will have to take matters into actionable change. While that does not happen, keep integrity, honesty, and excellence as your guide. These three are potent arms against insecurity. I could go on but I want to guarantee that more people understand your plea than you know. Finding sound counsel can be effective as you manage this draining professional interaction.