Do you ever dread going to work in the morning because of difficult co-workers or a toxic work environment? Do you sometimes feel like your superiors don’t like you or have unreasonable expectations of you? If YES, here’s 20 tips & ideas on how to deal with difficult people at work.

You don’t have to keep quitting your job or moving from one job to another as a result of this because in every workplace, you would always meet with difficult people which may be coworkers, customers, suppliers, clients or bosses.

It is therefore up to you to figure out ways to deal with difficult people so that you can enjoy a positive work experience in spite of the negativity around you. Here are 20 tips that would help you deal with difficult people at work:

Dealing With Difficult People at Work – 20 Tips & ideas to Help You

1. Ask for a Private Discussion with the Person

If the person is your coworker, you can ask to have a private chat with them. Sometimes, people would try to buy you or act strangely towards you when they don’t really know you, but if you are able to have a private discussion with them and let them know just how their actions towards you make you feel, you may be able to get them to start acting better towards you. Make sure you don’t sound confrontational or act in a confrontational way but a friendly and calm way.

2. Stay Calm

It is not smart to always respond in the same negative way as the other person because you may end up feeling worse especially if you are one who doesn’t like confrontation or strife. If you have a problem with staying calm when you are dealing with such people, try to do some breathing exercises. Just breathe in deeply and exhale a few times and your brain would trigger the release of hormones that can help you stay calm.

3. Avoid Judging Them

Don’t judge such people as good or bad. Sometimes, people can act in unkind ways when they are stressed or going through some personal challenges that you know nothing about. So don’t look at them as bad or difficult people, show some empathy and chalk their actions up to a bad day, accumulated stress or some other challenges you don’t know about. This way it becomes easier to forgive their actions.

4. Talk to other People who Can Help

If you don’t want to confront the person directly or if the person is your boss and you are scared that it may trigger even bigger problems if you decide to ask them for a private chat, you can look for someone else within the workplace that they like and respect and explain your feelings to them so that they may be able to act as a mediator.

5. Ask Them What They are Upset About: Don’t use words like “Calm down” or “I understand” when a person is really upset because it would seem like you are trying to prevent them from expressing their feelings. Instead, you should allow them express themselves and ask them to tell you more about what is making them angry so that they can let it all out and feel calm afterwards.

6. Dress Well: You may ask, ‘what does dressing have to do with dealing with a difficult person?’ but being well dressed does help boost your self- esteem and confidence.
Sometimes, the only reason why everybody’s actions get to you is because you are not confident enough or you don’t have a healthy self-esteem.

7. Be a Charmer: You can get people to like you by learning how to be a charmer- be funny, be down to earth and willing to offer assistance to anyone who needs it. You can become everyone’s sweetheart so that even if one or two people cannot get along with you, you wouldn’t feel the impact as much because there are several others who do like and admire you.

8. Downplay the Situation: You should avoid feeding negativity. Sometimes, you might just have to ignore a person’s actions and act like it didn’t happen because doing otherwise might escalate the situation unnecessarily.

9. Find Out The Trigger: People often behave like robots and respond in the same manner when they are exposed to the same situation. You might be able to get them to stop acting negatively towards you by doing away with the exact thing that is causing them to respond negatively. If they keep making fun of a particular shoe, stop wearing it to work.

10. Don’t Enable a Bully: If you have tried to observe a person’s situation and you discover that they are just bullies, you need to put your feet down and let them know that you would be having none of that. Bullies are mostly cowards who would let off when they are matched with equal confrontation from their victims.

11. Explain Yourself to Them: Some people may treat you badly if they feel you have also treated them unfairly. You can talk to such people and explain why you did what you did. Let them understand where you are coming from so that they can understand that you didn’t choose to hurt them deliberately.

12. Get Busy: Too much idleness at work can get you to continue to focus on negativity. Don’t ever forget that the primary reason for you being at the workplace is to actually work, so develop a mindset that focuses more on work than on other things.

13. Treat People With Respect: Regardless of how they treat you, don’t ever disrespect them or return their negativity. You can actually show them how to treat you by treating them how you want to be treated.

14. Stay Away from them: Sometimes resolution might not be immediately possible. In such situations, you can create a distance between you and the source of your agitation and avoid them/it as much as possible so that you can protect your feelings until a permanent solution shows up.

15. Report to a Higher Authority: If everything else fails and the difficult coworker continues to act negatively towards you, you should report them to a higher authority like a manager or the human resources department so that they can get them to back off and start treating you better.

16. Document Everything: Depending on how serious the situation is, you might need to have everything documented. This may include correspondences between you and the other party and anything that can serve as evidence should a lawsuit or mediation become necessary.
17. Adjust: Sometimes, they just might be right about you; your body language, actions or attitude may cause people to respond negatively towards you. In this case, you might have to adjust and stop being so uptight so that you can have a positive relationship with your coworkers.

18. Anticipate and Prepare: You can prepare your mind to block out negative words and actions. If you are dealing with a recurrent situation, you can prepare your mind to expect the worst from them and build your emotional strength so that you wouldn’t be so affected by their attitudes.

19. Attune: Stop focusing on what you don’t like about this person and start focusing on their good sides. Their actions might be more bearable when you choose to remember that they also have good sides too.

20. Respond With Humor: You can disarm unreasonable and difficult coworkers when you respond with to their actions with humor rather than being reactive.
Humor is a very strong communication tool that can show difficult people that you have superior composure and get them to stop acting negatively towards you.