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Managing People with Difficult Behaviors


People are not difficult, but their behaviours can seem impossible to manage at times. When that occurs, it’s important to know how to tactfully address the situation without burning bridges or creating a hostile work environment. Difficult behaviors can range from small acts such as eating a lunch in the refrigerator that belongs to someone else, deliberately excluding a colleague from critical meetings to taking credit for someone else’s work.{{more}} Whatever the behaviour, it’s imperative to have a plan of action. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Separate the person from the behavior. The person is not their behavior.

2. Nip it in the bud. Don’t delay and hope for things to get better. Address the issue immediately.

3. Use your listening skills. Walk in their shoes for a little while and see things through their eyes. Don’t jump to conclusions, just listen then paraphrase and make sure you understand their point of view.

4. It’s not about you. Chances are, people who display difficult behaviors may not be aware of it. They have many other issues that affect their behavior or that’s the only way they know to handle an issue.

5. Outline the expectations. Sometimes people just don’t know that certain behaviors are expected of them so be specific ask for what you want.

6. Avoid the broken record syndrome. Address an issue and move on. Constantly discussing it without a consequence trivializes everything.

7. HR/Ombudsperson. When all else fails, take up the issue with the HR department or a mediator. Ensure that the third party is neutral.

8. Positive reinforcement. Always say something positive at the end of the discussion that emphasizes the person’s value to the organization.

9. Manage yourself first. Sometimes you might be the problem.

10. Pick your battles and be strategic about what, when, how and where you deal with an issue.

Karen Hinds – President/CEO
Workplace Success Group LLC
21 West Main Street 4th fl
Waterbury, CT 06702
Phone: 203-757-4103
A CT Winner of the Make Mine a Million Dollar Business award!