Dealing with difficult people is a fact of life.
You will run into people on the job who will thwart you, confound you, frustrate you, infuriate you, stymie you, purposely get in your way, and just make you crazy.
You will run into people who see things completely differently than you, who do things in ways you don’t agree with and cannot understand, who seem to make it their life’s work to be ... well, difficult. It’s also likely that you’ll have managers who are overly critical, coworkers who are lazy or disorganized, and clients who are unrealistic and overly demanding.
Are you nodding your head and sighing as you read this?
The important thing is that you must not let these difficult types of people interfere with your ability to do your job and do it well.
After all, the only way you can move ahead and have career satisfaction is by taking 100% accountability for your career and your performance.
So, what do you do about difficult people? That depends on who they are (your direct report or your manager, for example) and in what ways they are difficult.
Overall, learning how to more effectively communicate with them will be the answer.
Yes, they might be the ones who are difficult, but the responsibility is on you to learn how to effectively deal with them. It’s your life, your career, remember?
To deal better with difficult people, we must first understand what’s happening from their perspective. For that, an understanding of different communication styles will be helpful, not just in your career but in every part of your life.
Here is an excerpt from Critical Communications: Strategies for Success regarding the four basic communication styles:
1. Dominance: People with this bold behavioral style are direct, decisive, confident, and task-oriented. They also may be impatient and insensitive, confrontational, controlling, and overly independent. Overall, they tend to be more task-oriented than people-oriented.
2. Influence: People who fall into this category are enthusiastic, approachable, talkative, and relationship-oriented. They may also be overly sensitive, disorganized, and not great at follow-through or details. A person in the influence category is someone you might call a “people person.”
3. Steadiness: People with this supportive behavioral style are patient, calm, easygoing, perhaps even predictable. They are great listeners and highly responsive to others’ needs, but strive to avoid change and confrontation. They may come across as passive or indecisive. They tend to be more people-oriented.
4. Compliance: People who fall into this style are detail-oriented, always well prepared, analytical, and cautious in their decision-making. They may be perceived as critical or rigid, emotionally withdrawn, and skeptical. They are more task-oriented.
Everyone responds to their environment and experiences with their preferred styles of behavior -- unless, like you, they have learned about these different styles and are self-aware enough to respond differently when needed.
Intrigued? Want to learn more? We’ll talk more about difficult people and communication styles in future blog posts, so stay tuned.