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How to deal with difficult people at work

Conflicts are endemic when you notice factions, team divisions and stonewalling at team meetings.

This is the time a true leader steps in to lay down the rules. Make it clear that the team has to work together and factions and undercutting performance is bringing harm to the whole team rather than certain individuals. Chalk out consequences and offer an opt-out to anyone who disagrees.

Explicit norms are critical for team success. Don’t wait for conflict to happen to figure out how to respond. That will lead to confusion inconsistency.

conflict in the workplace

Clarify Perceptions

It’s important to understand the colleague’s actions, and find out the motivation behind their actions that hurt you. It helps to ask the right questions in order to understand the colleague’s perception of you, the situation, or the cause of conflict. Make sure your questions are open-ended so it leaves room for the colleague to clarify their position on the situation. For instance, describe the situation and avoid using your own interpretation of the scenario: “I’ve noticed you’ve been arriving after 9 p.m., why is that?”

Understand emotions

Human emotions play a large part of in how we live amongst the people around us. When we’ve confused or confronted with a difficult situation, we emote two feelings – we ignore them or we accept them. Without losing your cool around difficult people at work it’s important to understand their feelings around the area of conflict.

It helps to understand that the colleague has emotions fueling difficult behavior in the workplace. Show your curiosity about how they are feeling about the particular situation.

Communicate Clearly

Clear communication prompts one to be able to articulate what they are thinking or feeling about the conflict. Resolve conflict with difficult people at work by addressing the issue immediately, setting clear expectations and understanding their emotions about the situation.

Diana Coker
Diana Coker is a staff writer at The HR Digest, based in New York. She also reports for brands like Technowize. Diana covers HR news, corporate culture, employee benefits, compensation, and leadership. She loves writing HR success stories of individuals who inspire the world. She’s keen on political science and entertains her readers by covering usual workplace tactics.

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