5 Tips On How To Relate With Difficult People

Let’s be honest, some people are more difficult to work with than others. There are weird people; angry, irritable colleagues; and people we just don’t understand.

And appreciating these individuals can be even more challenging.

Let me share a few tips on communicating appreciation to a “difficult” colleague:

1. Don’t try to fake it. Whatever you do, don’t try to “act like” you appreciate someone if you really don’t. Most people have very sensitive “radar” when they believe others aren’t being genuine. You risk undermining any trust you may have with your colleague if they don’t think what you are saying or doing is authentic.

2. Do some self-reflection. Think about some potential reasons why you have a hard time appreciating this colleague. What about them don’t you like? What do they do that irritates you? What about them don’t you understand? Are the issues SO big that you can’t think of anything they do that you appreciate? Don’t let some negative characteristics blind you to their strengths.

3. Consider characteristics not directly related to work performance. The core component that leads to appreciation is valuing something about the other person. Sometimes, we can value characteristics that aren’t necessarily “productive” but helpful (having a positive, cheerful demeanor; staying calm in stressful situations). Additionally, there are aspects of a person’s life outside of work that we may value — having the self-discipline to train for a half-marathon; being a single parent who is deeply committed to their children. Call attention to these characteristics as a start.

4. Get to know them a little bit better. Valuing someone is difficult when you don’t really know much about him or her. Often, finding out some about their personal history enables you to understand them more. And getting to know a bit more about their hobbies and life outside of work can lead to some areas of connection.

5. Treat the Person With Respect

No one likes to be treated as if he/she is stupid/incapable/incompetent. If you are going to treat the person with disrespect, it’s not going to be surprised if he/she treats you the same way as well. As the golden rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Paul E White

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