How to deal with difficult people at work

How to deal with difficult people at work

Some days, you arrive at work, and you feel like you must’ve run away with the circus. Some of these people are seriously strange. Short of letting one of the lions out of their cages to maul them into a merciful silence, what else can you do to get through the day? Here’s how to make it through until 5, even though everyone else seems to have taken a combination of cranky and weird pills.

Find some space.

Is there a project you’ve been trying to get to for weeks? This could be the perfect moment to shut yourself away in a quiet corner of the office with a large DO NOT DISTURB sign on your desk. Make it clear to all and sundry that you’re working to a deadline and really can’t indulge in any chit chat today.

This rule applies across the board, whether Frank from Accounts drops by to tell you about his new taxidermy hobby, or whether that boss from another section wants to point out some of your more prominent professional weaknesses. Just make yourself unavailable.

Aside from being left alone by the troublemakers looking to pick a fight, there’s another nice little upside to come out of this strategy: you may just get that report out of the way. The fact that a long-term burden has been lifted is bound to put you in a better mood, and make those difficult people seem miraculously easier to handle.

Tune out.

Depending on your job, it may be possible to wear headphones while you work. This is the ultimate way of blocking out the irritating static of difficult co-workers.

However, if you work in an office that values the concept of team work, it’s probably a bad career move to bop around the office in a world of your own. Nevertheless, you can learn to tune out the critical and annoying members of that team.

With some practice, you won’t even hear their jibes or attempts to put you down or draw you into some boring office gossip.

The trick is to focus intently on the job at hand. If you’re working at a computer, direct your full attention to the data on the screen in front of you. Try not to be distracted with the mental noise that goes through everyone’s head – what to have for dinner, what to wear tomorrow, who’s going to be at the party on the weekend.

Try to quiet those voices, as well as the ones which drone on around you, and just think about the task you’re working on.

You’ll find that the clamor of voices around you suddenly sounds like so much background noise. It will be as if someone has turned down the volume on the office decibel register. If there are still traces of distracting
verbal sounds filtering through your armor of concentration, read what’s on the screen in front of you out to yourself. Yes, out loud. You don’t have to speak at a normal volume; a gentle but persistent murmuring will work just fine, and it really helps to focus your attention like a laser beam on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Once again, another hidden advantage is that, while you’re reducing the stress of working with difficult people, your productivity is shooting through the roof.

With these kinds of positive side-effects, chances are your boss will notice how hard and effectively you work, despite the counterproductive and distracting conditions, and may even move you to a different section.

Of course, every office has its share of circus performers, but hopefully, you’ll find yourself working with the skilled and exciting men on the flying trapeze, rather than the clowns you work with now.

Of course

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