Workplace Relationships: How To Deal With Difficult Individuals

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Have you ever had a coworker who is lovely one minute and then dives down your throat the next? This may appear to be a personal issue, however, if it occurs at work, it is a business issue. Workplace relationships affect more than just the people involved.

In addition to lowering morale, poor workplace relationships can lead to higher absenteeism, lower productivity, and loss of good personnel. Furthermore, the longer difficult workers remain on the job, the lower your company’s employee retention and engagement will be.

 

What Causes Poor Workplace Relationships?

There are numerous reasons why difficult people behave in the manner they do. Unfortunately, one of the primary reasons is that it works for them. Many people discover how to get what they want by making others feel off-balance, uncertain, or uneasy.

When someone feels vulnerable, they are more prone to submit to others’ demands. Some people take advantage of this, gaining your trust and then shattering it, leaving you wondering what you did wrong. As they do this, they’re slowly gaining more power in the relationship while you’re backpedaling.

This need for power and control is frequently made much worse by feelings of insecurity. People who suffer from the feeling of not being good enough frequently attempt to impose that emotion on others. For a brief while, this may make them feel superior or, at the very least, more equal.

You can recognize this tendency if you have empathy. However, that doesn’t make it any simpler to deal with. Once you realize the tormentor is the tormented, it may be much more difficult to react.

 

What Can You Do About Poor Workplace Relationships?

Unfortunately, there are no magical solutions to be found here. Each scenario will be unique. However, here are a few hard-won hints:

 

1. Trust Yourself

Pay heed if you have a queasy, suspicious, or weird feeling about a potential business relationship. Check things out a little more and speak with people who know them or have worked with them previously. You can also use social media or Google to find out more.

If you’re thinking about hiring this person, set up a follow-up interview. Invite some extra people to sit in who can offer a different point of view.

 

2. Set Relationship Boundaries

You’ll have an easier time sticking to your personal and professional limits if they’re well defined and set in stone. It may also assist you in responding to unexpected conduct more courteously.

Additionally, it’s good to have a couple of ready-to-use responses in your back pocket. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and “Let’s not talk about that now,” can get awkward conversations back on track. “I’m on a deadline,” for example, is a good way to stop a conversation that’s going in the wrong direction.

You don’t have to give up your time just because someone wants to talk with you. If necessary, learn to say no and remove yourself from the situation.

 

3. Write It Down

If you’re dealing with toxic encounters regularly, start keeping track of times, dates, and particular occurrences. Re-telling stories from memory will be less helpful than making thorough notes on each interaction. Eyewitnesses are also useful if other persons are present and witnessed the interaction.

If you go to HR, keep in mind that you might not get the exact response you’re looking for. You may be looking for automatic disciplinary action or expect a quick and painless solution. However, HR might have different solutions, so manage your expectations accordingly.

Workplace relationships can present tough questions. Furthermore, your HR team may or may not share your perspective. However, if you’re in HR and need to fire someone, having this documentation in place will be critical.

 

4. Break Ties if Necessary

Sometimes you have no choice but to cope with difficult individuals. There are other times, however, that you do have different options. If you have a client, customer, or employee who appears pleasant but occasionally pushes boundaries, do a fast ROI analysis:

Take into account how much time and energy you’re giving them. Then ask yourself how much of that time you could devote to other people who genuinely care about your success. In addition, ask yourself what impact it would have on your life to remove them from your circle or business.

Cutting ties isn’t always easy, but it’s sometimes the best thing for everyone.

 

Image Credit: Christina Morillo; Pexels; Thank you!

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