Difficult people do exist at work. They come in every variety and no workplace is without them. How difficult a person is for you to deal with depends on your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and your professional courage at work. Some coworkers attempt to undermine you and you constantly feel as if you need to watch your back.
Your boss plays favorites and the favored party lords it over you; people form cliques and leave you out. Difficult people and situations, such as these, exist in every workplace.
They all have one thing in common. You must address them. No matter the type of difficult situation in which you find yourself, dealing with difficult people or situations is a must according to Susan Heathfield.
Let us consider more of the difficult behaviours at the Workplace from One great author.
The Bully: The most obvious workplace villain is the bully. Just like the bullies, you knew in elementary school, these people use intimidation and threats in an attempt to demean you and build themselves up in the process.
To stop a bully in his tracks, remain calm, but don't be a wimp. Instead of hiding out in the photocopy room after a run-in with the company bully, stand your ground. If the bully is ranting and raving, look him straight in the eye and firmly but calmly say, "Please don't speak to me like that. We're both professionals and I'd like to resolve this issue in a professional manner." If he continues, say, "I'm sorry, I refuse to discuss this issue any further. Please stop by my desk after you've calmed down." Then walk away.
Nothing is more infuriating to a bully than someone who refuses to listen. By walking away you've asserted your position, and you've let the bully know you refuse to be intimidated by him. And don't be afraid to confront a bully in public. Most bullies spread their nastiness around, so others are bound to support you if you call a bully on the spot.
Are you dealing with a meeting Bully?
In today's team-focused work environment, organizations recognize the benefits of input from a variety of perspectives and people. Unfortunately, more teamwork means more meetings which translate into more interactions with diverse personalities. Generally, we can all work through individual socialization styles, but occasionally, we must work with someone we find curt, coarse, and crass!
Meeting Bullies intimidate, interrupt and interrogate other meeting members, causing upset and internal political havoc both inside and outside the meeting room. Meeting Bullies are bossy, rude and create an unpleasant work environment. Often, the climate created by a Meeting Bully prevents other team members from contributing to group discussions or suggesting new perspectives. What's more, bullying can also affect the health of those being bossed around. According to a 1997 international study, between one-third and one-half of all stress-related illness is directly attributable to bullying in the workplace.
Furthermore, Meeting Bullyism is not uncommon. A recent survey indicates that 1 in 2 employees have been bullied during their working life.Who's the Bully you have in mind right now? Yes! that man or woman.
Why is overcoming meeting bullyism important?
Interactions with a Meeting Bully inside the meeting room can influence attitude and team productivity outside the meeting room as well. The ability to work with other people is critical in today's workplace. According to a recent survey conducted by HR Magazine, one critical characteristic in determining employee success within an organization is the ability to work effectively within and across teams. So learning how to handle the Meeting Bully may not only affect your day-to-day work, but it may actually influence your long-term status with the company and future promotion opportunities. So you're dealing with a Meeting Bully. What can you do?
Seven Helpful Tips for Handling Meeting Bullies:
Ask questions for clarification instead of making accusations or directly provoking a disagreement with the Bully. Questioning allows you to steer a conversation without making the Bully feel awkward or possibly arousing offense, always remember he who ask questions is in control of the situation.
Tone Is Half the Message
Consider not only what you say, but also how you say it. Addressing the Meeting Bully's behavior requires delivering a message – carefully. We've all been put-off by someone with a snarky, bossy tone. Voice intonation can sneak across without our awareness. For example, consider the difference between the meanings of these sentences depending on which word is stressed:
Notice that the second way of saying the sentence sounds harsher and more obligatory, even derogative. Although the difference is subtle, tone and word-emphasis contribute to how others interpret and respond to what you're saying. To prevent potential blow-ups when working with a Meeting Bully, always be aware of your tone of voice.
Calm, Cool and Collected
If you approach the Meeting Bully when you're charged from a previous run-in with him, it's likely you'll be easily fired up, which could easily result in another conflict. Wait a little while before facing the Bully. Go for a walk to get some fresh air or postpone your discussion until tomorrow if possible. Taking a night to think through the issues and cool off will allow you to put things into perspective. You'll come back to the table more clear and calm – ready to deal effectively with the real issues.
Focus on the Positive
Start discussions with the Meeting Bully by emphasizing things on which you agree. Finding common areas of understanding will put you both at ease before you begin discussing the issues which you see differently. Demonstrating that you and the Meeting Bully have common views can serve for addressing items under dispute.
Select the Appropriate Medium
If you need to address the Meeting Bully's meeting-room manner, do so in an appropriate mode of communication and setting. Face-to-face interaction is best. Remember, communication is 90% visual with more than half of a conversation's meaning stemming from body language. Using the telephone, written notes or e-mail can work against you in several ways. Not only can these forms of communication create ambiguity, but they don't allow for immediate clarification. The best solution is to sit down on neutral territory, such as the cafeteria or outside the office, to discuss the Meeting Bully's behavior.
Use as many facts as possible when working with the Bully. Stick to dates, data, customers, and documents to avoid sidetracking to personal differences. By staying fact-focused, you can avert intangibles such as opinions and feelings.
Consider a mediator
If the attempts at diffusing conflict with the Meeting Bully fail, you may want to seek the help of a mediator. Conflict management with a third party allows for a neutral source to communicate the issues clearly without bias. Mediators should not work directly with your team and should be impartial to both parties. If you can't find an impartial individual, you may consider contacting an outside source.
In defense of the Meeting Bully, people aren't always aware when they're being difficult. Is it possible that the Bully simply has a strong belief or passion regarding the issue? If your team is to move beyond personal differences, everyone must realize that proving a point or being right should be secondary to your team's objectives.
Remember that you only have control over your own actions and not over the Bully's. Keep this in mind when dealing with conflict. By following these suggestions, you'll demonstrate leadership, maturity and most importantly, you'll be putting your energy towards a solution that will move your organization forward.
Bully prevention tips
Make your meeting room a bully-free zone with the following meeting-room rules:
1. Try to see things from the other person's point of view.
2. Take breaks if your meetings last longer than an hour.
3. When someone is speaking, never say, "You're wrong".
4. Avoid "right or wrongs" –- treat alternate points simply as a different way of looking at the same issue.
5. Remind yourself and others that you're all working towards a common goal.
6. Encourage feedback from others.
7. Try to keep the mood light – keep treats on hand or start meetings with a joke.
8. Don't use your finger to point at people.
Back Stabbers: Backstabbers are just as vicious as bullies, but they shy away from confrontation. If you find out someone in your office is talking about you behind your back, the first thing to do is verify if it's true. If it is, you have two options – you can ignore the gossip or confront the person responsible for starting the rumors in the first place. As a rule of thumb, if the gossip could affect your career, you really can't afford to ignore it. Try approaching the backstabber and saying something like, "Akosua, I understand you've been telling people that I jeopardized the Kwame account by missing the advertising deadline. I did no such thing, and I'd appreciate it if you stopped spreading unfounded gossip. In the future, please approach me directly if you have a problem with my work."
The key here is to be calm, factual and firm. State the exact rumor (if you're vague, it's easier for the backstabber to deny it) and explain in no uncertain terms that you won't tolerate gossip in the future.
Idea Killers: These are the people who are totally apathetic about their work. But instead of just affecting their own careers, their apathy spills over and kills the spirit and enthusiasm of everyone around them. Their favorite phrases are "that would never work", "we tried that a couple of years ago and it was a flop." or the old favorite "you really don't understand how things work around here."
If an idea killer is a colleague, he or she is merely a drag. If your boss is an idea killer, however, it can be deadly. An idea killer can block your efforts so much that it looks like you're as apathetic and incompetent as they are. Upper management may view you as a non-performer – they won't see that you pitch new ideas all the time.
The next time you pitch an idea, anticipate the idea killer's objections and come prepared to counter them. If you want to instigate a rebate program and you know the company tried one ten years ago, go in with facts and figures to highlight the different market conditions that would make the campaign work this time around. If he still won't come around, tell (don't ask) him that you're going to pitch the idea to a more senior manager.
Explain that you want to hear their reaction "just in case their thinking has changed since you last spoke with them." The idea killer's biggest fears are confrontation and change. So don't be afraid to stand your ground if you're trying to get around an apathetic boss.
Whoever the villain in your life is, don't be afraid to confront them. But remember, the good guys are only successful if they're truly good. So don't confront a colleague or manager without a good reason, otherwise, you'll end up playing the villain!
If the good wins, stop complaining and get back to work. Backtrack on these recommended steps and retry some of them when appropriate, until then the power is yours.