” We are constantly being put to the test by trying circumstances and difficult people and problems not necessarily of our own making.” ~Terry Books
The quality of our lives depends upon the quality of our relationships. In a workplace, having poor relationships with your boss, peers or subordinates can be stressful (for you and them) and sabotage your career goals. In some professions, building a large network of people can be essential to success.
What makes a person a “difficult” person? I’ve spend a considerable amount of time thinking about that, because I know my thoughts create my reality, and the thoughts of a difficult person creates their reality. I can no more control another person’s thoughts and behavior than I can control the weather, but… I can create strategies to make difficult relationships if not successful, then at least tolerable. A successful strategy depends on how well you know the person, what you know about them and their situation, and what has happened in the past.
It’s been my experience that rarely is someone deliberately trying to offend or insult me. The majority of the time they have done it without knowing it, and judging them by their intent, not the result, has saved me from a lot of stress. Not everyone has good social skills. I also try to remember that every person I meet is fighting a battle I know nothing about, and that thought helps generate feelings of compassion for people who may be experiencing extreme emotions.
Not all difficult people are aggressive or have unacceptable behavior. Some have agendas and values that are just so different from mine that we don’t see eye to eye or connect well. Often showing a genuine interest in the other person’s problems can bring you closer to a common ground. For some, you may be the first person to ever take an interest opening up an opportunity for you to make a real difference in that person’s life.
While we tend to focus on other people when we think about difficult people, it’s good to consider our own behavior and what we may be doing (or not doing) that causes our co-workers to think of us as difficult. Seeking out honest feedback from trusted co-workers can be very helpful.