Dealing With Difficult People: Two Steps to Getting “Oscar the Grouch” to Behave at Work
By Harriet Meyerson
Dealing with difficult people is an invaluable skill, especially in the workplace, where you must learn to get along with many different personality types.
Of all the negative personalities that one must learn to deal with, “cranky” is probably one of the hardest. It is a formidable task for even the most laid back person not to take a grumpy, critical attack personally. It’s formidable, but not impossible.
When my kids were young, they loved watching Sesame Street. Oddly enough, their favorite character was the green and disheveled, Oscar the Grouch. They really thought he was funny. I always thought it appropriate that he lived in a garbage can.
How much easier would it be if we could laugh at the cranky people in our lives? Unfortunately, when you encounter a cranky person, you can’t simply close the lid of his or her garbage can. You must deal with them. But, how? Here are a couple of suggestions;
1. Do not respond in kind.
The grouch is actually expecting you to fight back. But, telling someone off because he or she is angry with you is like throwing gasoline on a fire. It just makes it worse.
People who are grouchy love it when you give them something more to complain about.
The best thing to do is be pleasant. That really throws cranky people off.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that you have to take abuse. If someone is yelling at you or being disrespectful, tell them (in a neutral tone) that you do not like being spoken to in such a manner. Be consistent. Ask them to speak you more appropriately each time they are grouchy or critical to you. If they refuse, you can always walk away. It sounds very simplistic, but think about it. Once a person realizes you are not going to be dumped on, the dumping will stop.
Occasionally, when someone is in a bad mood, all that person wants is to be heard and acknowledged.
Nothing can stop self-righteous tirades quicker than telling people you hear them.
Responding with “You might be right. Tell me more.” or “I can understand why you are upset. How may I help?” works wonders. Of course, this option does require some patience on your part and a genuine willingness to help.
While there are no guarantees that these will work (some people are simply determined to be grumpy or remain in a bad mood – and to take it out on anyone available), these two important steps can give you a starting point to help you deal with the “Oscars” in your life.
Taking these two steps in dealing with the difficult people in your workplace will also make your workplace atmosphere more positive and will make you a more effective workplace leader.
Q. How effective are you as a workplace leader?
* What’s more… You get these bonuses, too.
Weekly Employee Morale Tips – Creative low-cost employee morale boosting activities that energize and motivate your staff.
Written by Harriet Meyerson, founder of The Confidence Center. Harriet works with companies that want to raise employee morale and with HR Managers, supervisors and executives who want to improve employee confidence and productivity.
Copyright: Harriet Meyerson
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