When employees make the decision that it’s time to move on, it’s often not the job they’re leaving but the people they work with. Our colleagues and especially our boss are major influencers on our level of job satisfaction. So if you’re constantly battling with challenging workplace characters then it’s likely you don’t’ jump out of bed each work day. You’re not alone, when it comes to career advice; one of the most common questions I get is on dealing with difficult people at work.
In this article we’ll look at how to improve our level of workplace happiness, save our sanity and graciously manage Politicking Pete, Backstabbing Barbara and Insulting Ian.
** Politicking Pete **
This guy plays games, is underhanded, pits people off against one another and spends enormous amounts of time going back and forth between various parties to build factions. Then he’ll turn them against one another and generally create havoc.
Pete has way too much time on his hands if he’s ‘campaigning’, but that’s because he’s an excellent delegator. By getting others to do his work it frees up his time to talk and talk and talk, with a huge dose of manipulation thrown in.
He’s also great at avoiding work, you’ll never see Pete put up his hand to help anyone out or work on extracurricular activities such as committees or working parties. However, on the odd occasion he may participate if he feels he can further his latest cause.
You’ll often find Pete sitting on the edge of someone’s desk, in their visitor’s chair or inviting people for a coffee so he can ‘bounce an idea’ off them. In reality, he just wants to spin his story and get them to agree.
He affects his co-workers’ satisfaction by working on fear. If you don’t go along with his politicking you’re afraid you’ll be on the outer and if you do join his band of merry trouble-makers for the wrong reason you have this dis-ease inside you because you’re ignoring your values.
>> Dealing with Pete < <
In a word – don’t.
If you know he’s playing games don’t even entertain his politicking conversation. Let him know you’re not interested, change the subject or tell him you’re too busy to talk.
Sure, he may try to pressure you into listening to him, but you have to do what’s right for you and you can easily tell what’s what by asking yourself, “By engaging in this behavior with Pete will it make me feel positive or not so great?”
From time to time you may agree with what Pete has to say and that’s fine, but ask yourself, “Is he working his cause in a way that will benefit all or is he manipulating the situation?”
In general Pete doesn’t tend to come from a good place so don’t align yourself with him, feel intimidated to join in his antics or entertain his conversation.
It’s about setting boundaries. When you do what’s right for you, you’re happier in the situation.
** Backstabbing Barbara **
There’s nothing this gal won’t say behind your back whilst being as sweet as pie to your face.
She loves to undermine everyone around her and a good word rarely passes her lips.
Barbara is on a constant fact-finding mission to uncover all the mistakes others have made and then blasts her evidence to anyone who will listen.
The only time she keeps juicy information to herself is if she discovers a tidbit that could help solve a potential dilemma. After all, why offer a solution and pull someone up when you can push them down.
If someone wins ’employee of the month’ she’ll provide a long list of their incompetencies and why it shouldn’t be so. Pass on good news to her about a colleague and she’s quick to let you know that they’re not as nice as you make out.
By putting others down she believes she’s building herself up. It’s all about her insecurities, but it’s affecting your level of happiness, especially if you’re one of her latest victims.
>> Dealing with Barbara < <
If you hear her say something negative about you, let her know. One of the reasons she gets away with this unpalatable behavior is because no one ever confronts her.
You don’t have to say much, a simple, “Barbara I heard that you thought my comments at the last meeting were a little stupid. Is there something I can clarify for you?”
Also let her know that if she has any comments about you, you would prefer for her to address you directly as you don’t appreciate hearing her thoughts from a third party.
Even if she denies it, it’s a case of letting her know, that you know what she’s up to.
You can use the same response if she’s telling you about someone else. “Barbara, there is no use telling me, I suggest you take it up with them as they can do something about it.”
By not letting her get away with it you are telling her you will no longer tolerate or entertain her backstabbing behavior.
** Insulting Ian **
This guy can’t seem to keep his foot out of his mouth. You’re either reeling from his latest insult or cringing for others.
He’ll say, “Congratulations, I didn’t know you’re pregnant.” To a woman who had too many chocolates over Easter.
“Hey mate, where did you get that sweater from? What a joke.”
As the recipient explains it was a special gift from his wife. As he pulls up next to you in the car park he quips, “Isn’t it about time you got a new car?”
Ian attempts to improve his self-esteem by putting others down. He often makes his comments in a joke-y manner, but there is nothing funny about how they make people feel.
There are two versions of Ian: malicious and clueless.
The malicious side is just plain nasty. Insulting Ian gets nice thoughts stuck in his throat.
Clueless Ian just doesn’t think before he speaks. Even after he hits and runs, leaving his victims in a disbelieving stupor, he meanders away in a world of his own.
>> Dealing with Ian < <
He no doubt continues with this behavior because no one ever lets him know it’s hurtful or inappropriate.
It doesn’t matter if he’s malicious or clueless Ian, the next time he makes a comment say, “That wasn’t necessary Ian. I’d appreciate if it didn’t happen again.” Or let him know it hurt your feelings.
If there is one thing each of these workplace characters has in common it’s inappropriate behavior that we let go unchecked time after time. The greatest piece of career advice I can give you on dealing with difficult people at work is to set boundaries, stop them in their tracks and do what’s right for you.
For too long you’ve not wanted to rock the boat with these annoying colleagues and as a consequence you’ve rocked your own boat until you got seasick and felt unhappy and uneasy at work.
Be a workplace warrior and stick up for yourself, it’s a simple way to improve job satisfaction and honor yourself.
Madisen Harper was inspired to create a revolution of people who enjoy their work, are high performers, on purpose, can have a laugh and be more than decent human beings to one another. Get her free VIDEO newsletter with 100s of practical tips & move from loathing to liking your job. Madisen recently co-authored a book with Dr Wayne Dyer, Brian Tracy & ‘The Secret’s’ John Assaraf & Michael Beckwith.