Do you sometimes feel that your job would more fun if you could work with a different crowd? Are you surrounded by whiners, nay-sayers, bullies, backstabbers and other difficult people? Is there somebody in your office that you just can’t stand?
In any work environment there may be folks with whom you find it difficult to get along. In some cases you can reduce the pain by staying out of their way, but avoidance may not be an option. In many situations, however, you can improve things considerably by learning to communicate in new ways. Here are suggestions:
- Understand personality types. Just as some of us are left-handed and others are right-handed, people tend to fall into various broad personality categories. For example, some of us are extroverts, and we like to brainstorm out loud, sharing our thoughts long before we’ve reached our conclusions. This can be annoying to introverts who prefer an environment where people don’t open their mouths until they know what they want to say. When you understand basic personality types, you may realize that others’ behavior is not about you – it is just how they are made. Tests like the readily available Myers-Briggs assessment can help you to understand what makes you tick, and offer strategies for dealing with people with very different approaches to life.
- Understand difficult behaviors. We don’t all agree on which behaviors are preferable, but there is some consensus on types of behaviors that are most egregious. In “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand,” Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner describe 10 of the most common types of difficult people, and suggest ways to communicate with them. For example, they offer advice on coping with “the Sniper,” who makes you look foolish “through rude comments, biting sarcasm, or a well-timed roll of the eyes.” This readable book has been around for years, and has helped many to get along better with the difficult people in their lives.
- Listen. Once we start thinking of people as difficult, we tend to stop listening to them. As they speak, we feel defensive and start working on our rebuttals, instead of actually paying attention to what they are staying. At some level they know we’re ignoring them, which can cause their obnoxious behavior to intensify even further. You can often defuse a tense situation by putting aside your defensive reactions and concentrating on what is being said. By listening with some compassion, you may launch a new era of healthy communications.
- Manage your inner voice. If somebody is driving you crazy, part of the problem is what they are doing. But sometimes your own reaction may prolong the pain. If a colleague makes a rude comment it may hurt for a minute or two, but the pain will end quickly if you just move on. But your whole day is ruined if you allow yourself to keep reliving the moment, thinking repeatedly about what they said and how you should have reacted. Sometimes you can’t control how they treat you, but you can choose how much to let it hurt. By becoming more aware of your inner dialogue, you can manage the internal voice that is causing you much of the pain.
- Address your stress. When we are stressed out, we tend to react more strongly to what others do and say. When the people around you get on your nerves, maybe the problem is not really them. Maybe it’s you. Perhaps you’re exhausted or frustrated, and every little annoying thing feels to you like a crisis. Yoga, meditation and other regular practices can help you manage your stress. And when you feel more relaxed it will be easier to deal with your colleagues’ tedious habits.
Want to hear more about issues like these? Contact Bev about workshops or seminars for your group. Meanwhile, visit Bev’s website at www.ClearWaysConsulting.com. Check out brief book reviews, eZine archives and Bev’s blog. If you have questions or suggestions, email to Bev directly.
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