Difficult people—colleagues, bosses, clients and more—are found in every workplace. You might imagine it’s impossible to handle the gal who badmouths everyone in the company or the guy who blows up at the smallest provocation. Yet there really are straightforward solutions for dealing with difficult people. Here are tips to help handle five challenging personality types.
Difficult Person: The Bully
These folks do all they can to intimidate and manipulate coworkers—including yelling at them and insulting them. Their intent is to instill fear and anger in others.
Firmly tell a bully to stop. Calmly and matter-of-factly discuss whatever dirt has been lobbed at you. When bullies don’t get the angry reaction they seek, more often than not they back down.
Difficult Person: The Blamer
Absolutely nothing is ever the blamer’s fault—it’s yours or your colleagues’. They cause enormous stress to all in their orbit. Blamers never make mistakes—everyone else does.
Don’t take what a blamer says personally. At the very least, try to remain positive despite their attempts to bring you down. Then walk away as fast as is feasible.
Difficult Person: The Gossip
Gossips routinely sling dirt behind people’s backs with the aim of riling everyone up—as they make themselves the center of attention.
If you can’t avoid a gossip—because you must work together—stick to task-related topics. Never share personal information about yourself or others; that only fuels their fire.
Difficult Person: The Oversharer
This person shares way-too-intimate details of their personal life, making others highly uncomfortable. They’re likely unhappy and trying desperately—but inappropriately—to bond.
Set boundaries. Find ways to cut conversations short: I have a meeting … a lunch date … I’m on deadline … and so forth. Don’t engage or feel you must respond in kind.
Difficult Person: The Drama Queen
Drama queens crave the spotlight. They’re often loud and flamboyant. In a good mood, they spread fun and excitement. In a bad mood, they sow chaos.
Don’t give a drama queen an opening. Don’t ask about their feelings. Tell them to stick to the facts. Should they complain incessantly about a problem, ask them for their solution.