Dealing with difficult colleagues: 7 useful tips

25. April 2017 | Thema: | Kommentare lesen (0) | (0)

Mit schwierigen Arbeitskollegen umzugehen kann mühsam sein, vor allem, wenn man das in einer Fremdsprache machen muss. Hier sind sieben Tipps, die Sie dabei unterstützen sollen.

When I was a student, I worked part-time for a telemarketing company. It was my first real job. The first piece of advice we got from the HR manager was that ‘a bad apple spoils the whole barrel‘. In other words, if one person is unfriendly or impolite at work, it can spread to the whole team. 

But how can you deal with a co-worker who is being difficult or even rude? In his book ‘How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People‘, communications coach Ni Preston gives seven key tips. I‘ve summarised these for you below and given you some sample phrases to try. 

1 - Stay calm 

If you get angry, you will only escalate the situation. In a worst- case scenario, you could end up looking like the bad guy instead of your difficult colleague. If you get really angry or upset, count to ten before you react. That will give you time to calm down and find a constructive solution. 

If the other person is angry, then give them time to calm down. For example you could say: 

‘We need to talk about your concerns. But let‘s take some time out first. We can meet up in my office in ten minutes.‘  

2 - Keep your distance 

If someone has a difficult personality, there isn‘t much you can do about it. Try to keep interactions to a minimum. 

3 - Don‘t jump to conclusions 

You don‘t know why someone is being a pain. Maybe they are in a bad mood because they‘re having personal problems at home. Maybe they didn‘t reply to your email because they are incredibly busy. So, don‘t jump to conclusions and don‘t take things personally. Also, just because they are a pain in the neck, it doesn‘t mean they don‘t have a good point. Don‘t let their bad personality cloud your judgement. 

4 - Be strategic 

Pick your battles: think carefully about when, where and how you deal with a difficult colleague. If you need to have a word with them, it‘s often better to set up a one-to-one meeting discreetly. This will mean you can discuss the problem privately without drawing attention to it. 

5 - Don‘t personalise 

The problem is what this person is doing (or not doing) and how they are behaving. So, focus on their actions and how they affect you and not on this person‘s personal qualities. For example, instead of saying ‘You are a chatterbox!‘, you could say: 

‘Please could you speak more quietly when I am on the phone. Otherwise, it makes it difficult for me to talk to my clients.‘ 

6 - Put the focus back on them 

Some difficult people try to put the focus on you; in other words, they find fault with you and put you under pressure instead of trying to find solutions. Resist the temptation to act defensively. Instead, ask them about their behaviour and what they are doing. So, if a colleague says,

‘Your suggestion really isn‘t helpful. Can‘t you do any better?‘,

you shouldn‘t say, ‘Yes, it is!‘ or ‘I‘m doing the best I can!‘

Instead, you should ask them about why it isn‘t helpful and what they are doing to help. For example, you could say,

‘Have you thought about my suggestion?‘ or ‘Why isn‘t that helpful?‘

If they react by getting aggressive, you should calmly point this out: 

‘I find that disrespectful. If you are going to go that route, then we will need to stop the conversation. Is that what you want?‘ 

7 - Set clear boundaries 

You need to be clear about what behaviour you don‘t like and what you will do if it doesn‘t stop. That means setting clear boundaries and clear consequences. For example, if someone is repeatedly rude to you at work, you could say: 

‘For me, that remark was inappropriate. I‘m sure you don‘t mean to be offensive. But, if you say something like that again, I will have to talk to our manager.‘ 

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Autor: Sebastian H. Turnbull


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