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6 Steps To Dealing With Difficult Employees In A Workplace

By May 17, 2023June 1st, 2023No Comments
Workplace wellness

It is safe to say that we have all encountered a difficult colleague in some form or another. Dealing with difficult employees can be a hard to approach to improve the situation. It is so important for companies that colleagues gel with each other as it will play a huge impact on employee wellness.

It is vital as it affects the overall productivity level within the company. It is also very important for the employees’ sense of fulfillment and happiness in work.

Dealing with difficult people at work can be tricky for managers and leaders in companies. It is very important to know how to deal with conflicts and address them in an appropriate manner. Experts in this field have estimated that between 60% and 80% of reported difficulties at work are caused by strained relationships with co-workers.

Managers and team leaders must understand that they can’t control how other people act but then can control how they respond to the employee’s behaviour.

Here are some tips you can take on board when dealing with difficult people in the workplace.

1. Try to listen and understand your co-workers’ issue fully

When you are in this predicament, try your best to put yourself in your co-workers’ shoes and try to compromise with them as much as you can.  Some simple tips are to clarify any queries you may have, maintain eye contact and mirror their body language to make them feel more comfortable

Active listening is a powerful tool in resolving workplace conflicts and dealing with difficult employees. Start by providing a safe and non-judgmental space for your co-worker to express their concerns or issues. When they are speaking, refrain from interrupting or formulating your response in your mind. Instead, focus solely on what they’re saying.

Use verbal and non-verbal cues to show that you’re engaged and empathetic. This could include nodding your head, maintaining eye contact, and repeating back what they’ve said to ensure you’ve understood it correctly. Moreover, try to understand the emotions behind their words.

Often, difficult behavior stems from underlying feelings of frustration, inadequacy, or fear. By acknowledging these emotions, you can address the root cause of the issue rather than just the symptoms

2. Be sure to have rules in place on how you would like to be treated

This can be as simple as having a discussion with your employee in private rather than in front of everyone else in the office. Establishing clear and consistent boundaries on how you expect to be treated in the workplace is vital in managing difficult employees.

This not only sets the standard for professional behavior but also helps to create an environment of respect and dignity. These ‘rules of engagement’ should be communicated clearly to all employees, and should apply to everyone, regardless of their position within the company.

This could include expectations around respect, communication style, conflict resolution, and general professional conduct. For instance, you might establish rules that prohibit raising voices, interrupting others, or using disparaging language.

You might also emphasize the importance of constructive criticism, open communication, and respect for diverse opinions. However, setting these rules is only the first step. Equally important is the consistent enforcement of these boundaries.

If an employee oversteps, it’s crucial to address the issue promptly and directly, reinforcing the importance of these guidelines.

3. Remain calm

When dealing with difficult people in work, the worse thing you can do is lose your temper. Try to breathe and take a moment away from everyone if you need to calm down. Many managers say they have learned the skill of managing their emotions in times of stressful situations and to remain calm when resolving issues with co-workers.

4. Get some perspective from others

Explaining your situation to others, they will be able to see the situation from a different angle and offer other solutions for the situation. You might discover some advice that will be helpful to you.

Start by discreetly consulting with colleagues who work closely with the problematic employee. They may have valuable insights into the root cause of the problematic behavior. Maybe they’ve noticed certain triggers or patterns that you haven’t, or perhaps they’ve found effective ways to communicate with this person.

In addition to gathering insights, this approach can also help to foster a sense of collective problem-solving. It emphasizes that maintaining a positive work environment is a shared responsibility, not just the job of one person.

However, be cautious in how you approach these conversations. It’s important not to foster an environment of gossip or negativity. Instead, frame these discussions in a constructive manner, focusing on understanding and resolving the issue at hand.

5. Respect

Even if you may not see eye to eye with a co-worker, having respect for them is still so important. If you are going to treat the person with disrespect, it will not help in resolving the conflict between both of you.

Respectful treatment involves recognizing the employee’s individuality, acknowledging their feelings and perceptions, and treating them with courtesy and kindness, regardless of their behavior. Remember, everyone is capable of having a bad day or going through tough personal situations that can spill over into their professional life. This also means avoiding any form of humiliation or public reprimand.

If you need to address unacceptable behavior, do so privately and constructively, focusing on the behavior and not the person. This approach is not only respectful but also more likely to encourage positive changes in behavior. Moreover, be conscious of the language you use.

Even in difficult conversations, strive to use respectful and professional language. Avoid derogatory or demeaning terms, and focus on the facts and behaviors, not personal attacks.

6. Report to a higher authority

If you feel you have tried everything to resolve this conflict, it may be time to report this to your manager. This is usually the last resort but if nothing else has worked, this could be the best option to get the situation dealt with, so you can move on and enjoy your working environment again.

It is not ideal or pleasant working with someone who is making your working life difficult. You should not have to dread coming in to work and have a difficult situation on your hands daily and your employee wellness will see a decrease also.

There is always some way that you can resolve it and by trying these steps, hopefully something positive can come out of a negative and difficult situation.

Workplace Wellness Workshops Can Improve Productivity

At Zevo Health, we offer a range of workplace wellness workshops to help employees better understand their roles, and offer direct tips to help reduce any friction in the workplace.

We cover topics like this in our workplace wellness workshops. Have a look to see if any jump out at you or your suit your company’s needs. You can also get in touch with us for any specific requirements in a workshop.

Workplace wellness workshops cta

Free Webinar | This webinar will take place on June 27th, 4:00 pm GMT

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