We all have had to deal with at least one person, who seems to defy all logic and reason, whose motivations are incomprehensible to us and who, whether knowingly or unknowingly, revel in creating strife and tension.
Such people add a lot of stress in our lives which can have a negative impact not only on our performance in the workplace, but also on our health. Luckily, there are ways to handle such difficult people intelligently and neutralize or at least minimize their negative impact.
- Set Limits
Negative people fairly regularly wallow in negativity and problems. Don’t accept or encourage them in their negative emotional spiral. Set boundaries and distance yourself when necessary since there is a difference between being sympathetic and getting sucked.
- Dwell on solutions not the problem.
Keep redirecting the negative person to find solutions instead of focussing on the problems. They will either stop complaining or better yet, attempt a positive outlook.
- Rise Above
Always remember there is no way to counter someone who insists on irrationality. You will only be tempted to react emotionally and get caught up in the maelstrom of reactions and counter-reactions. The only sane way to deal with someone who refuses to listen to reason is to remove yourself from that situation for that time. Rise above reacting to their responses.
- Maintain distance
When dealing with a difficult person, putting a little distance will allow you to cool down and focus on facts, and hopefully diffuse the other person’s heightened emotions as well. Take time to think of an alternative approach to the issue at hand as well as the person. Remember going down the same road again and again will not give you a new result.
- Identify the root of the problem
If someone is constantly difficult and refusing to be a good team member, see if you can identify what is at the root of their behaviour. It is very rare for someone to be a problem person for the heck of it. There might be some reason they are reacting or behaving the way they are. Identifying and resolving it is better than reacting to it every time.
Apart from this, do build and use your own support system. Reach out to someone neutral who can give you an unbiased perspective and help you identify alternative ways of dealing with the challenge. They might even suggest a solution that you could have missed as a result of being so emotionally invested in the situation.