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6 Ways to Deal with Difficult People at Work

Are you stressed because you’re dealing with difficult people at work? Here are six ways to deal with them effectively.

Before diving in to the six ways to deal with difficult people at work, you might want to check out this article for early warning signs that a person might be difficult.

Know Yourself

The most important thing you can do to deal with difficult people at work is to know yourself first. Self-awareness is the key. Know what pushes your buttons, and more importantly, why. Once you know that, you can work at preventing those buttons from being pushed. When you become aware of what difficult people do to trigger your stress, you can rise above it. Being self-aware makes it more likely you can remain calm and rational, even if the difficult person is being irrational and disorderly.

See Them as God Sees Them

However difficult they might appear to be, God loves these people. He accepts them as they are and cherishes them as his child. You can ask God to help you see them this way too. Only he has the power to help you love the unloveable. If we’re honest and self-aware, then we know there are times when we are difficult to love too, but there are people in our lives who choose to look past that and see us as God sees us. The difficult people at work can be used for the Kingdom just as we are and God values them. We should too.

Don’t Expect So Much from Them

I am a recovering perfectionist. Coupled with being a lawyer by profession, it’s easy for me to expect the impossible from people, especially difficult people at work. It makes for a frustrating working environment! Most people can’t or perhaps even don’t want to live up to your high standards. They would rather keep on doing what they’re doing in the way they want to. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “If only …”. People will disappoint you and change always takes longer than we would like. So lower your expectations. Challenge people to a higher standard, but don’t be surprised if they don’t live up to it straight away. Have faith that the Holy Spirit is working to change their hearts.

Deepen Your Relationship with Them

You probably won’t feel like doing this. The natural way to deal with difficult people at work is to put distance between you. But the better you get to know difficult people the more likely you are to discover why they act the way they do. Often, it’s because of past experiences, and once you understand that, it brings you more patience in dealing with them. It doesn’t excuse their behaviour, of course, but it does help us understand why they act the way they do. It may even help you to know how to pray for them.

Establish Clear Boundaries

That said, you may need to establish clear boundaries with them to protect yourself and ensure you remain effective and productive. Don’t allow them to take charge of your relationship. If some of their behaviour is annoying then ask them to stop. Not establishing boundaries with them will only encourage them to keep pushing to see what they can get away with. I have had to set boundaries in the past so that I protect deep work time (such as preparing worship or sermons) from unnecessary interruptions, and to protect my Sabbath, for example. You may experience push back from the difficult person, who will not appreciate boundaries being set. Don’t take it personally. If they are violating boundaries with you, it’s likely they are doing it to others too.

Reach Out for Support

Don’t be afraid to ask someone for support. Your mentor has probably experienced dealing with difficult people at work. They may have other useful tips to share with you. Don’t suffer on your own! Tap into any resources you have. There are people around you who can help you with your self-awareness too.

Your Response

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