Working with Difficult People

For years I worked in the corporate world and wondered why I ended up with bosses who were unreasonable and had to be 'managed'.  In my last corporate role, my boss had taken to using me as his scapegoat for not meeting his deadlines and when someone filled me in on this I remember being so annoyed that I considered resigning on the spot.   

Instead, I decided to get some coaching before making a move and this was the best thing I could have done.  I discovered that in certain situations (especially where my level of professionalism or perfection was being questioned) I responded by taking feedback too personally. This often prevented me from being able to see what was really going on for my 'misunderstood' boss (we often lash out at those who are closest to us) and in some of my personal relationships.   

Once I was alerted to this ingrained response I was able to stop taking things personally and look at what was really going on behind the scenes. I was then able to assess situations with greater perspective and respond in more useful and productive ways.  I found that if I was receiving negative feedback that seemed unwarranted, (i.e. false or an over-reaction) it had more to do with what was going on for the other person and frequently had nothing to do with anything I was or wasn’t doing.  This was immensely helpful and kept me sane for the remainder of my time in the corporate world.   

Some of you reading this will be wondering what the heck I'm talking about especially if you’ve never taken anything personally in your life (that's a whole other issue), but those of you who can be a little sensitive - guess what, it's not all about you!   

Next time you find yourself in a difficult situation with someone - if you suspect their behaviour is unwarranted, see if you can find out what's going of for them!

Yes maybe they do need a bit of understanding and if you give it to them, you’ll notice an improvement in the relationship.  This works for all relationships – not just at work.   

And in case you're wondering, yes, occasionally I do slip back into my old habits, but it’s so much easier for me these days to recognize it as it happens and switch back into a more positive attitude – usually without the other person even realising. 

To find out more about this topic and how to re-invent yourself, contact Sue Booth at [email protected]

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