How to Manage Difficult Personalities at Work

Difficult personalities at work


We’ve all had a coworker or two who made the workplace a challenging environment. They are always late, they never attend meetings, they gossip or they refuse to cooperate. All of these factors can make life in the office frustrating and stressful. But, you can easily manage a difficult personality by following these strategies. 

Stay Calm
We’ve all heard the phrase, “give someone an inch and they will take a yard.” A person with a problematic personality thrives on challenging people and confrontation. It can be easy to lose your cool when things get heated. This only adds fuel to the fire. Instead, take some deep breaths, clear your head and excuse yourself from the situation if needed. A person who remains calm is viewed as someone who is in control and is more respected. 

Talk It Out
Confide in a manager, friend or coworker and share your experiences. It is likely they have been faced with a similar situation and can offer some insight. They may even see things from a different perspective and can give you helpful advice. You can take solace in knowing you are not the only one who has dealt with difficult people. 

Build a Bridge Instead of Burning It
Take a moment and try to build a connection with this person. Invite them out lunch or an afternoon walk. If they succeed on a project or receive a promotion, send a congratulatory email or give them a handwritten note. Find out where they are coming from, what home life is like, what their hobbies and interests are…you may find out you are more alike than different. 

Set an Example
The phrase, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” can have a significant impact on the workplace. If you mistreat others, it will allow them to treat you and others the same way. Show your colleagues you respect them and they will follow suit. This will create a more positive tone in the workplace. 

Ignore and Move On 
Sometimes a difficult person may not be receptive to your attempts and it will just be best to move on. You’ve done everything to adopt a cohesive work relationship but sometimes not everyone can get along. Ignore the person’s attempts to challenge you. Remember, it is easier to change yourself than another person. 

From deadlines to projects, we all have a lot of things to juggle in the workplace including those with difficult personalities. Remember, that everyone is there for the same objective and that maintains a professional and successful operation. 

Coastal Human Resource Group, Inc. is a Human Resource Outsourcer (HRO). We serve as a full-service human resources department for small and medium-sized businesses throughout the Southeast which provided compliance screening as well as background checks. Visit or call us toll-free at 1-888-757-7444. We’re here to help ensure that all your human resources needs are met.

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