Difficult people exist everywhere on our planet. From households to workplaces, this is one group of people whom we cannot avoid or wish never to have anything to do with them.
You can have difficult parents who think they know what’s best or right for you. Don’t get me wrong because yes, our parents do care about us but there are still limits. Some parents can be rather unreasonable and trying to reason with them is what sets you off like a firecracker! Or you can have a difficult relative who constantly picks at your life, wondering when are you getting married or having a child or just maybe for the way you manage your own personal life! Or you can have a difficult person who calls herself your best friend, yet takes you for granted and criticises you when you try to live your life besides being there for her.
Long story short, difficult people are everywhere. We cannot avoid them but we can try to live with them or work our way around them. Although, this is easier said than done when it comes to difficult colleagues, coworkers or teammates. And a negative and whiny teammate is a recognisable character from the everyday drama of work. Which is what I’m facing right now in my workplace.
Because of this, I’ve often had to have discussions with my manager and ask her for help or advice that could help me work with my difficult teammate. So far, things have not gotten out of hand yet and I’m doing all I can to keep the peace. It’s challenging but still doable. Which is why I decided to write about it. Because I know that I’m not alone in this and that every one of you could be facing a similar situation to mine and some of these tips could help you out too:
Steps on How to Deal with Difficult (or Negative) People
Listen to the Complaints Being Made
Sometimes, people make repeated negative comments because they don’t feel that they are given the attention they deserve. If they want to rant, listen to them until you are certain that they feel heard out and listened to. Ask questions to clarify their statements. Make sure that you have actively listened to them.
Know Your Limits
Then, decide if you want to believe that your teammate or colleague has legit reasons for their negativity. If they are asking for your help to solve the problem, you can try to give them some advice. However, if you are unable to provide any ideas on how to address their issues, you can direct them to your Human Resources Department. You’re not hired to provide counselling or therapy.
Know When to Walk Away
Long term complaining can sap your energy and positive outlook. Don’t let it reach that stage. Walk away if you feel that things are beginning to get uncomfortable. Tell your teammate or colleague that you’d prefer to move on to more positive topics. Explain to them that their complaints affect how you feel about your job and the workplace.
If you are clear with your objectives, hopefully, your colleague will stop complaining or move on towards a less straightforward employee (which is not good either). If this occurs, you may want to head to your Human Resources Manager and let him or her in on what is happening. This person may be able to address the problem to create a more harmonious workplace.
Agree to Disagree
While listening to your coworker’s negativity and you find that their concerns aren’t legit and cannot be justified, be professional about it and tell them what you think. Again, explain to him or her that you care about their concerns and about their happiness at work but you disagree with their assessment of the situation. For example, you do not believe that one manager has made callous remarks of another manager. These remarks may have been due to that manager’s pressured mindset or because he or she is under great duress to hit a sales target.
If you find that you can’t handle the situation, back out gracefully of additional conversations. Your colleague may attempt to appeal to your sympathetic nature but if you are under the impression that the negativity is unwarranted and uncalled for, don’t spend your time listening or helping your teammate to address their negative feelings.
You will only encourage a long-term growth of negative feelings and behaviour. You may even set yourself up as a negativity magnet! Consistent negative interactions will eventually steep into your interaction with other colleagues in your company. Or worse, you could become the negative person too!
Spend Less Time with Negative People
If all else fails, you might want to spend as little time with them as possible. Causes of their long term negativity are not your concern. Everyone has a story and a reason for their remarks at the workplace but some can come off more worse than the next person. Avoid staining your positive outlook by listening to these stories or reviewing the history and background of the grievances that are causing the negativity.
Talk to your own manager or Human Resources personnel about the challenges you are facing in dealing with the negative person. People who have so much to say about the company but do nothing about it just need a new job, a new company, a new career, a new outlook, a new life or counselling. Negativity is a choice; you don’t want to reinforce it. It’s not healthy for you, for them or for the company that you are working for.
Negativity in a Nutshell
There are many types of people out there and one of these types tend to display more negativity than usual. Their reasons for negativity varies, from disliking their jobs and/or companies, to thinking that their managers are always jerks and are, thus, treated unfairly. Every company will have one or two (or more) but you can always address their impact on you by avoiding them. After all, you have no reason to hang around with them and it’s a known fact that their negativity is contagious.
So why go there? Your career and job should bring you joy, not sorrow and despair. And by hanging around them, you might become negative too. So it’s in your best interests to approach these negative people professionally and gracefully, but if you find yourself at the end of the road, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Yours truly will just have to do the same too and hopefully I can work better with my difficult teammate!
If you’d like other tips on how to deal with difficult or negative people, you can go to:
- Guardian Careers: How to Deal with Difficult People at Work
- Psychology Today: 10 Keys to Handling Unreasonable & Difficult People