How to deal with difficult people at work

21 Oct 2022

Millennials work under a lot of stress. There is no fixed time as such as modern work expects them to be available for work round the clock, at most places. In such cases, it becomes important that a stress-free environment is created for them and that they get along well with their coworkers so that their productivity does not suffer. However, there are difficult co-workers in the workplace who can, in turn, turn things around. One must adapt or learn on ways to deal with difficult people at work.  

However, most modern workplaces do not manage to do this for their employees. The stress tends to take a toll on workers and their mindset, which leads to tension and ill feelings between coworkers. A demanding or negative boss, grumpy or bully coworkers, whiny customers, and lazy subordinates are all part of your daily work lives. It is not always possible to deal with their tantrums and awkwardness or laziness of employees and bring out the best in them.  

If you happen to deal with difficult people at work, here are some tips as to what to do.  

Stay calm

Overreacting in any situation is not going to do you any good. Try to control your temper or other emotions if you feel like you are going to burst out in anger or in tears. You won't be able to resolve the issue then, and you also will not be able to get the person's support and collaboration for future endeavors in the office.  

If you remain calm and composed through the tough situation, you will automatically gain more respect of your other colleagues as well as the difficult person in question. You will be able to get their attention, make them listen, understand, and hopefully sort out the issue without creating a further mess of things.  

Understand the person's intentions

People do have a reason to behave in a way they do. If someone is bullying you, if a person is acting lazy, if someone is spreading a negative vibe, there would be a reason for them to act in that way. Try to get a new perspective and look at things as an outsider and understand the person's intentions behind acting out like this. Sometimes, to deal with difficult people at work, try to identify the person's trigger for behaving in the way they are: 

What is making him/her act in this manner? What is stopping him/her from cooperating with you? How can you help to meet his/her needs and resolve the situation? 

Be straightforward

Sometimes, you have to be upfront with people. To deal with difficult people at work, you will have to tell them how you feel about the situation and how it needs to be controlled and that things need to be sorted out. 

People may not realize that they are creating a problem for a co-worker, so it's best to talk things out with them. One of the two things may happen. They may either apologize as they never realized they were causing harm to you, or they will turn defensive and come up with some excuse to counter your accusation.  

Manage expectations

If your boss is expecting you to answer emails in the middle of the night, tell them it won't be possible. If your colleagues dump their work on your head, be firm and tell them it cannot continue that way. Be calm and composed when you communicate this to your peers. 

It is important to have this conversation in advance without waiting for an uncomfortable situation to crop up. It enables a far more rational discussion about what's needed, instead of one in the heat of the last minute panic. 

Understand that all humans are different

It is important to understand that we are all humans, and humans tend to make mistakes. However, it is also important to know that every individual is a different person. Every person's approach to a situation may be different. Their actions and reactions may be different. 

So you cannot expect them to behave in a way you may expect them to behave in a certain situation. Try to understand things from their perspective and then decide how to talk to them about it.  

Respect, respect, respect. 

To deal with difficult people at work, you must, at all times, be respectful of all employees—whether senior or junior to you. Nobody likes to be told that they are stupid or that they are incompetent. The worst is when you make personal remarks in a professional argument. You cannot expect a person to treat you with respect if you cannot treat them with respect.  


Ignore the bully or the constant barrage of negative remarks. If the person does not stop even after you have had a word with them, ignorance is bliss. If the person is not receptive to feedback and change, it is best to ignore them. 

You have already done everything that you possibly could to resolve the issue. You've tried to make the person understand how their behavior is hampering the work environment for you. Get on your daily tasks and communicate with the person only where it is needed absolutely.  

Speak to the Human Resources or a higher authority if things go out of hand

When all else fails, escalate to your manager. If you have tried talking to the person in a nice manner or been strict, and the person has not stopped being difficult at work it is time that you involve higher authorities in the scenario. It may begin to effect with your work. Be careful not to exercise this option all the time. This is so that your manager won't think that you are incapable of handling your own problems. 

This may be the most effective in moving people who just refuse to cooperate otherwise. This should be used as the last resort when the person refuses to dissolve the situation.

These are a few ways you can deal with difficult people at work!

Related Blogs

Callout Image undefined

Most popular