No matter what industry you’re in, even if you’ve been living on some remote island where everyone is uncannily easy to get along with, eventually a stow away is going to arrive on a boat dropping off supplies, and that stowaway is going to be one. A dreaded difficult person. And now they’re your co-worker.
What do you do when you work with someone who just gets right under your skin day in and day out? Do you imagine punching them in the nose right in front of the whole staff? That’s what the monkey part of your brain might want, but the more evolved, career driven part of your brain has other solutions.
Give them your respect
No matter how difficult the situation or the person don’t give in to the temptation of respond with like. Getting into the mud with them will only make you both dirty. If they are sending out negativity send back self-respect and dignity.
In truth, you don’t know what else is going on with them. Something rotten could be going on in some aspect of their life you don’t know about. Listen to what they have to say and focus on that rather than focusing on your next rebuttal.
Don’t tell them to calm down
Telling someone who is already upset to calm down and be quiet will generally have the opposite result. Ask them to explain the problem better so you have a better understanding of the underlying issues.
Don’t try and diffuse the situation with humor
A joke can often lighten a situation, but if a person is already off on a rant, they will take your attempts at diffusing the situation as evidence that you do not take what they’re saying seriously.
Don’t take it personally
Remember this is about them, not about you. Don’t get angry or try to convince them of anything. Let them have their say and do whatever you need to do in order to end the interaction. Whether that means putting a quick end to a conversation or finishing up a project, just get it over with. The longer you linger on the “augh I hate you” factor, the more you will get dragged into it and the more difficult it will all become. Learn to let it roll off your back like water on a duck.
If the job is ongoing and communication with them is constant, set limits on how much they are able to contact you.
Say something like, “Thanks for all the advice Barbara. Just so you know, I’m taking on some extra work so I’ll only be available from 1 – 3”.
There will always be difficult people in and out of your life. Make your interactions with them a whole lot smoother by creating strategies for dealing with them in advance.