Administrative professionals work with a wide range of people during the course of a normal business day. Inevitably, some of those people have difficult personalities that test the patience and professionalism of others. Instead of allowing challenging co-workers to sabotage your performance, learn coping strategies to help you deal with them.
Remove the Emotion
Dealing with difficult personalities can cause a variety of negative emotions, particularly if a person's behavior offends you on a personal level. Before you act on a situation, take a moment to stop and remove the emotion from the situation. Identify the exact personality quirk or characteristic that troubles you. Then, examine your reaction. Does the person irritate you only when you are under stress? Does the person's behavior clash with one of your pet peeves or personal beliefs? Examining the situation objectively can help you determine whether or not you are overreacting based on personal biases or if the person is truly difficult.
Identify the Root Cause
In some cases, people with difficult personalities behave badly in response to a certain trigger or situation. Observe the person's behavior for a week, and note when they become difficult. Then, examine the circumstances surrounding each instance. Look for patterns that might indicate a cause. One co-worker might snap at you when deadlines loom near, while another may act demanding or irritable after a reprimand from a superior. When you realize that the problem has nothing to do with you, it is easier to keep your cool while dealing with the person.
Change Your Behavior
One of the simplest — and most difficult — ways to deal with difficult personalities is to change your reaction. Changing another person's behavior is an uphill battle; changing your own is fully within your control. When a co-worker is difficult, react in a way that diffuses the situation. Instead of reacting with anger, use a calm voice. Be empathetic. Without emotion, explain how the person's actions are making it impossible for you to do your job. Alternatively, take proactive steps to deal with the person. If they are slow to meet deadlines and irritable under pressure, send documents and forms well in advance of the due date. If they are loud and obnoxious, meet with them in spaces that require quiet discussion.
When all else fails, minimize your interaction with people who have difficult personalities. Keep all of your meetings short and concise. Use email to communicate, and avoid in-person discussions whenever possible. By keeping your face-to-face time to a minimum, you can avoid the constant, low-lying irritation that sabotages productivity. As a result, you can approach difficult people with a greater sense of calm.
For administrative professionals, dealing with difficult personalities is an inevitable part of the job. By approaching the situation objectively and devising clear strategies for dealing with each person, you can reduce stress and create a more pleasant working environment.
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