Have you ever said something like, “Life at work would be so much easier if I didn’t have to deal with Martha”? You obviously perceive Martha as a difficult person, but is she really?
Difficult people can be bosses or co-workers who intimidate or gossip about others. They might miss deadlines, blame their shortcomings on others, or complain about everything and everybody. Their behaviors result in lost time and talent as they often alienate others. Worst of all, they appear to have no idea that their behavior is perceived negatively.
The first step in dealing with this kind of person is to determine whether the individual is really a “difficult “ person or if the individual is just having an “off” day. To determine if someone is a difficult person, ask yourself or others the following three questions.
Does this individual have a history of being a difficult person?
Asking this question helps you determine if there was a time when the person didn’t act difficult. Check that out by getting a historical appraisal from others. Do they perceive the individual’s current behavior as a passing phase or something more prevalent?
Is the person reacting to a particular event?
This is a critical question to ask if the person doesn’t have a history of being difficult. Someone might be grieving over the death of a loved one or the breakup of a marriage. Or the individual might be disappointed about being passed over for promotion. Atypical behavior in these instances should be considered “normal” under the circumstances.
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