People come in all shapes and sizes and varying degrees of complexity. It's this complexity that makes it hard to navigate human relationships.
People are not as clear cut and easy to understand as technology. When something goes wrong with my computer, I get an error message. When something goes wrong with people, out spills feelings.
Some people's feelings are erratic and messy, while others tend to bottle them up and fester in a passive-aggressive way. Other's use feelings in a positive way to bring more passion and meaning to their work.
The way we handle emotions at work can set the tone and impact our culture. I have seen work cultures that ignore peoples feelings, and there is a sense of apathy that permeates the environment. Anger sends mixed messages and creates distrust. When angry people continue to get their way, the hard-working staff feel unappreciated. Some people learn that the way to get what you want is to lash out.
Remember, difficult people, are that way because they get some reward from it. They may get attention, recognition or they get their way more often. The key is not to give in to difficult people but to find ways to sort through the conflict and move forward.
Someone can be justifiably angry, but the way they display the anger is inappropriate. Lashing out and calling people names is not ok and we have to create reasonable boundaries of behavior. Otherwise, morale will suffer as anger become a part of your work culture.
When I meet somebody who pushes my buttons, I take a step back and try to appreciate their perspective. It's not always easy, especially when I feel like they are wrong. However, understanding other personalities, feelings, and view is the only way to come together and collaborate.
It helps to understand and be aware of some of the below energy sucking folks.
Angry People. Anger involves a chemical reaction that releases adrenaline and noradrenaline and is perpetuated by the fight or flight response. It tends to create a myopic, righteous viewpoint. This anger is intense, and it can go away quickly. Yet it leaves dire consequences, like broken relationships in its path.
Some people wear anger like a T-Shirt or an Armour to protect them. In other words, they may occasionally lash out, but more likely they wear the aggression around with them. Instead of expressing their emotions they become passive-aggressive. It can look like a cold stare or dismissive behavior. This regular anger can take a long time to recognize as it is controlled and deliberate.
When someone is angry the most important thing to do is stay calm. Raising your voice and matching volatile energy will escalate the conflict. Instead, remain calm and focused on working through the battle. Ultimately who is right and who is wrong doesn't matter as much as what is best for the people and situation.
Below are 3 Other Types of Difficult People and How they Take A Toll on your Work Culture:
Insecure People. These people may seem fragile, constantly need reassurance, take things personally and can be easily hurt. You may find yourself being cautious and deliberate with them so as not to upset them.
Many people can cast pity or feel sorry for these souls however understand they are getting some reward for their meekness. For instance, your cautiousness may exclude them from heated discussions or tough projects.
There is an overall cost to the workplace in lost productivity as people tiptoe around trying to avoid discomfort. It's important to keep a balance at work and create boundaries with insecure people. Work is not the place to bring all your problems. It is much healthier to come to work and be productive and focused; work can even be a great distraction from personal issues.
If one person continually drains the rest of your team, you need to help create boundaries for the rest of the team. I think it's essential to give sensitive people focus and direction. I have a rule that I can only complain about something three times, after this I have to put it away. Thus, when I do complain, I don't want to waste it, I want to get a chance to air my feelings. I wouldn't waste this at work where I will be distracted by other real priorities.
Apathetic People. These people often give off the attitude that they don't care. They seem reluctant, uncommitted, unwilling, uninvolved or disinterested. They need to spark a sense of curiosity and wonder about the work they do. They need a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in their work.
Patronizing People. Some people have a way of belittling others and making them feel unimportant. They operate through a smokescreen of importance, talking themselves up and putting others down. Patronizing people either feel superior to others or they need to act like they are to cover up their insecurities.
Remember work is work, it's not a vacation. There is an expectation that you show up, do your job and stay productive. If emotions like anger or apathy get in the way of the job impact morale, this needs to be dealt with.
Naturally, conflict can come to the surface at work because people are always under pressure to work to their best and they often don't have the time, resources or control over their results.
I am hired as a funny motivational speaker to help organizations boost morale. I intertwine comedy and content to help audiences better understand difficult people. The Keynote on Conflict, I Love My Job, it's the People I Can't Stand! Helps people understand the toll challenging emotions have on culture.