How do we deal with difficult personalities? This can be a big problem for lots of people, especially when our situation makes it unavoidable. Everyone can think of a person they don’t like. We may have a number of reasons we dislike them. The reasons don’t matter so much, but what is important is the way we handle our interactions with them.
How to Deal with Difficult Personalities – An Example
I offer a personal story as an example of how not to handle a person with a difficult personality: I once had a co-worker at a utility surveying company who was mean, lazy, and arrogant. To give you an idea of the type of person he was, he once mocked an elderly, handicapped woman who was jogging with leg-canes and even his kids hated him. In addition to being despicable, he was barely qualified to do the job he was assigned. In fact, no one really liked this individual very much, including the boss and the company owner (who was also a bit flaky).
As things happened, I was stuck with the person I didn’t like. We can call him “Cantaloupe” to keep him anonymous. So, I was forced to work with Cantaloupe, day after day. There are very few people I genuinely dislike and he was one. Cantaloupe and I didn’t get along, and it was evident.
To worsen this situation, our boss quit with no notice (this company had serious problems). Cantaloupe was then put in charge because he had longer tenure. This soon became a nightmare. He quickly made all of our lives a hell as he frequently made a mess of our daily work plans and assigned us all the tasks that he didn’t want to do. Meanwhile, he found every excuse in the world to avoid working. If things went good, he took credit that wasn’t his. If they went bad, he blamed us. Cantaloupe was very good are redirecting blame, which is probably a main reason he hadn’t been terminated. Suffice to say, this wasn’t a pleasant working environment.
How do we better deal with difficult personalities?
One key point to remember is that we are responsible for our own reactions. Even if someone presses our buttons, the way we respond is on us. It pays to avoid any snap reactions and jumps to conclusions.
The less we argue, the better. Let the other person do whatever they are going to. You can’t stop them anyway.
Don’t let them live “rent free” in your head. If you spend your weekend thinking about some jerk at work, or anywhere else, you’ve wasted a whole weekend of time you could have been enjoying. Then more you stew over resentments and harbor hatred, the worse you will feel.
Try to find a good quality in the other person. As bad as most people are, they usually have a good side. Granted, you may have to try REALLY hard at this. In some cases, this isn’t always true.
When all else fails, disassociate. If possible, just don’t talk to the other person. Avoid them and places they may be. If this isn’t an option, only say the bare minimum. The more you limit your interactions with them, the less chance there is of them spoiling your day or mood.