Monday, August 26, 2013

Dealing with Difficult Personalities at Work

A mentee of mine came to me this past week, looking for advise on how to deal with a co-worker with a difficult personality.  The distractions caused by the difficult co-worker and the drama that ensued were impacting my mentee's ability to focus on her job and do good work.

I talked through some basics (e.g. establishing ground rules for when she can be interrupted from her work, listening to music via ear buds to drown out drama, getting physically out of her area for meetings, etc.), but I also had one trick that has served me well over the recent past of my career.

One tool that I use that has really helped me greatly is for me to mentally cut the difficult personality some slack.  Human beings are not wired to be jerks or cause dysfunction  and typically those that are have had to endure who knows what to end up like they are.  Hence, in my mind, I attribute their behavior to trauma they have had to endure in their life, and instead of being angry or frustrated with them, I feel sorry for them.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have our own trauma.  But the strong – we deal with it, we adapt, we move forward, and we thrive.  Some, however, are not as strong, and cannot do so.  And that’s how I look at unhappy people, as it helps me stay above whatever kind of dysfunction they’re causing.

This video gets to what I’m saying:

Thus, when the dysfunction starts around you, instead of focusing on it, focus instead on the gifts you have been given, your strength, your perseverance, and note that others may have not had the same fortune, and/or may not be equipped to deal with life’s trauma as adeptly as you.  Be thankful for who you are and what you have, because you’re have no idea of what they may be trying to endure.

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