As a working Mum, the hope is that work runs as smoothly as it can, enabling as much productivity in the efficiently managed schedule as possible. Things rarely go to plan, however, and, just as the blocked sink, stomach bugs and broken appliances at home contrive to complicate domestic life, so too will difficult people complicate the work place.
Follow these five top tips on how to deal with difficult people at work.
Seek first to understand. Managing tasks and projects as efficiently as possible, which is what most working mums have to do, can sometimes lead to tunnel vision. This occurs when people are so focused on the goal, the dynamics and considerations of others are forced to the periphery. Often a difficult person is just a misunderstood person (however, there will always be difficult people who act that way just because they can). Put down the laptop, take a step back and look at things from their perspective.
Don’t stew – be productive. It is all too easy, having been frustrated by someone’s actions or comments, to spend the time picking over the conversation, attributing blame and venting to close colleagues. Although it may make you feel better in the short term, it achieves little more than this. Time is a precious commodity to the working mum, put emotion to the side and move on.
Have that difficult conversation. Few people like perceived confrontation, but sometimes an honest conversation is all it takes to get work relationships back on track. Frame sentences with your perception of reality rather than as statements of fact to avoid agitation. For example, stating ‘I sometimes feel that you don’t listen to what I say’ is a lot less antagonistic than ‘You don’t listen to what I say’.
Think about your language. Are you always inclusive? Do you always phrase things in a way that engenders support rather than telling people how to do things? When you know that the meeting you are about to have is with someone that you find difficult to work with, take time out to prepare how you phrase things as much as what you want to discuss. It may add time to the process initially, but over the space of a few weeks you’ll find it removes obstacles and is a very valuable process to work through.
Roles and Rules. For projects and meetings always establish these as the first priority. By agreeing to group behaviours you can legitimately pull non acceptable behaviour up early with the support of the other members in the group. Setting expectations of people early on in a process can often prevent difficult people from gaining a foothold.
The vast majority of these tips are focused on you, making the effort to find the common ground. However, it is also important to remember that sometimes, standing firm and sticking to your principles is the thing that gives you the respect you deserve. Trust in your instincts to decide when these occasions are.
How do you deal with difficult people at work? Do share your tips below and don’t forget to visit Coaching Mums to view our latest FREE resources for helping you achieve more balance in your life. If you’d like a little inspiration and support delivered free to your inbox, click here to sign up for my free ezine; Inspire.