Michael Osland- Great Tips for Dealing with Difficult People
Michael Osland- Great Tips for Dealing with Difficult People
We are all faced with difficult people. We didn't plan on more work when we came to work, but there they are every morning,


We are all faced with difficult people. We didn't plan on more work when we came to work, but there they are every morning, having some issue that needs our attention or getting in the way of us completing our tasks for the day. These people can be challenging to deal with. They may not be too bad after some time, but some can really put you through your paces while at work. Sometimes dealing with these sorts of people has serious consequences and sometimes it's just a case of learning how best to handle them so that everyone is satisfied by the working relationship and gets through their day without making any big mistakes that would affect their career or even result in disciplinary action.

Here are five tips that I've found helpful over the years when dealing with difficult people at work.

I've put them in order of increasing difficulty so that if one of the first doesn't go well, you can try something more involved.

1) Volunteer to Help or Offer an Explanation

As soon as you are aware that the other person has a problem with your performance or attitude, volunteer immediately to help sort it out says Michael Osland. This works best on simple issues where their complaint is valid and you have some way of fixing it right away. If someone tells you they think your report could be better, tell them about an improved version you have available for them right now. Don't argue against their point of view unless you know there is really some flaw in what they are saying (or even then, try to be the bigger person if you can).

If they give you some feedback, don't just agree with them. Make an attempt to counter their criticism and then offer up your solution. This shows that your mind is active and working, rather than waiting for others to sort out all the things you need to do better. They may start seeing you as more proactive about addressing these kinds of issues in the future which could prevent similar problems from arising again later on.

2) Write it down

Sometimes people are busy or not very good at explaining what needs to be fixed. If the issue is simple enough, ask them if they could write it down instead so that you can take a look at it once everyone has calmed down. If it's a little more complex, ask them to email you their issues and you can take a look at it when you get back from your lunch break.

If the other person tries this approach, don't be too harsh or abrupt in your response. You should also try to make things easier on yourself by getting any information that may help you fix it earlier rather than later. If they tell you about an issue with your performance early in the morning, for example, there is going to be less time for things to improve if they need fixing before a report goes out that day.

3) Person to Person

Sometimes people are disrespectful at work and the best way of dealing with that is face-to-face but only if both parties are in the office at the same time. If you are not facing that kind of disrespect, then don't just confront them there and then. You may get more respect but it may result in an argument right on the spot which you aren't ready for or prepared to deal with properly.

If people are disrespectful at work, make sure they know about it personally (in private) when both of you are alone together rather than confronting others publicly where anyone can listen in on your conversation or read what is being said over their shoulder. This method has the least chance of causing issues with other coworkers who might be present during your discussion and who could also take sides if either party gets too hot under the collar explains Michael Osland.

4) Meet outside Work Time

This method works best when the issue is not with your performance but more to do with how you both get along. If someone has a problem with how you behave at work, for example, and you think they might be overreacting then ask if they would like to meet another time (where there aren't any distractions or interruptions) and talk about it properly.

5) Ask to Sit Down with Your Manager

Sometimes, you just need a mediator and that is where your manager can really help. If someone thinks you are doing something wrong because you're ignoring them or not paying attention when they speak to you, ask if they would like to sit down and talk about it with your manager present too. This method may prove awkward but it's the only way to get out of an uncomfortable situation and/or resolve any issues rose as quickly as possible without putting either party at risk of losing face says Michael Osland.


If you are not sure about the issue, ask for some time to think about it. This gives you breathing space and room to consider all angles of the situation before having to reply or act on anything that has been said or done that could be wrong.