Handling a Difficult Personality – A Simple Approach

At some point in life, if not a daily occurrence, we have had to encounter difficult persons. In the home, in relationships and at other inter-personal encounters; but most especially at work where a lot of us get to spend most quality hours of the day, we are face-to-face with difficult persons. Who is a difficult personality or worker? A difficult person at the workplace is one with a poisonous attitude in the office, in the home environment or a relationship. How can you help or improve upon such personality?

Come-to-Jesus Discussion

Have you observed a poisonous attitude in the office, home or relationship, then it is time to have a serious come-to-Jesus meeting with such a one. In a work environment, the one observed with the poisonous behaviour should be invited to attend a meeting with team workers, complainants, his or her direct supervisor/boss and the overall boss. Attendance by the overall boss is necessary for a situation where the “difficult personality” has been known to capitalise on his or her closeness to power or authority as a license for his/her strange attitude.  

Detail out Observed Bad Behaviours

What to do at this meeting? Detail out all constant complaints, observed bad behaviours and attitudes. It is not the time to beat about the bush, play goody-two-shoes or tongue in cheek. For a positive outcome, the worker with a difficult personality should be made to understand in clear terms the complaints and the observed bad or intolerable workplace attitude from co-workers against him or her.

Highlight the Negative Effects of Such Behaviours

Help the difficult person see the negative effects his or her bad behaviour is having on the job, co-workers, and the over-all office accomplishment or goal and on projected productivity. Same also in the home or relationship – the toxicity of displayed poisonous attitude should be clearly stated as well as how it negatively impacts the relationship.  The difficult worker at this point is made to understand how his or her poisonous attitude negatively imparts the work and overall productivity.

Clear Picture of Expected Behaviour

Also, help such one to see the clear picture of what is the expected behaviour working in a team. Closeness to power or authority should not be a license to work in one’s will or at one’s pace thereby making work situations or environment tense, unpleasant or intolerable for others working together. This should be clearly stated. This situates the reason why the overall boss should be present at the meeting.

What are Your Expectations?

It is important to ask from the supposed difficult personality: what can be done to help him or her be a better person? What can be done to help him or her achieve better work attitude? It is also very important to find out from him or her in the case of teamwork, what he or she expects from co-workers, (spouse if it is in the home or a relationship) and you are not getting?

Attitude or Performance Improvement Plan

Next, is to put up a performance or attitude improvement plan.  Have an understanding with the difficult person or persons on when and how to compare performance or attitude with withdrawn-up plan to ascertain improvement and progress.

Put a Check

Direct boss, Supervisor may wish to put a weekly, monthly check – a period during which a comparison is made from time meeting was first held and present time to check and measure improvement rate. Very importantly, controls and expectations must be put in place.

Immediate Check on Complaints

Moving forward, any or every time there is a complaint against a said worker; it should be immediately checked by bringing to his or her attention.

The above are simple, practical steps for handling difficult personalities. Not only will the suggestions improve workplace relationships; they will make for better team-working thereby resulting in increased organisational productivity and effectiveness.