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  • Writer's pictureAya

Working with difficult people

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Have you experienced working with difficult people?

It’s not a fun topic, I understand, but it is inevitable to encounter people you feel difficult to work with. It could happen more when you are in a diverse environment. Different people have different values and different working styles. Like I wrote in the past (blog post "Be on time"), a difference is just a difference and there is no right or wrong. Then how you can handle that? If you can avoid, escape, or ignore it might be one way, but you are not always that lucky. Then, what can you do?

Let me ask you a question first.

<<What do you mean when you say he/she is “difficult”?>>

Please take five minutes or more (it’s better if you can take time for this) to define the characteristics of those “difficult” people and write them down on a piece of paper. Just remember the faces/voices of them and write down why you felt it was difficult for you to work with them. It can be words/phrases and/or sentences. It is your opinion, so don’t worry even if the list looks opinionated.

Then you define the specific behavior you have noticed.

For example, if you wrote down the word “aggressive” about someone, then you find what behaviors made you think him/her as aggressive. It could be the words he/she chooses. It could be his/her tone of voice. Write down as many behaviors as you have recognized.

After you complete the list, leave it for an hour or more. Do some yoga poses, sip some tea, read a book, or do laundry.

Then come back to the list.

It is very important that you look at the list as objectively as possible. Look at those behaviors and imagine what could be the reasons behind those actions. You might be able to realize that he/she was frustrated. Or he/she could be angry.

In any situation/circumstance, it is YOUR choice of how YOU think and feel.

So if he/she is frustrated and/or angry, it is not your problem. Even if your behavior/action causes frustration and/or anger. Of course, it is ideal if you are willing to change the behavior and can change it. However, as you know, it is not that easy most of the case. So all you have to do is to take care of YOUR thinking and feeling. You don’t have to take care of his/her thinking and feeling.

It is not easy to work with someone who shows frustration and anger all the time. If you realize that you are influenced by other people too much, it may be because you might not have a healthy boundary between you and him/her.

What is “boundaries”?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “boundary” as “something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent”. A website “” defines psychological boundaries as “Boundaries can be physical or emotional, and they can range from being loose to rigid, with healthy boundaries often falling somewhere in between”.

If you do not have healthy boundaries with others, other opinions, behaviors, and emotions from other people affect your opinions, behaviors, and emotions too much. If you feel you need to build healthy boundaries, it is a good idea to talk to someone about your findings. You can learn a lot about your thinking and feeling by talking to someone.

If you are interested in learning more about healthy boundaries and personal boundaries, there are great articles you can read.

<<How to Set Healthy Boundaries: 10 Examples + PDF Worksheets>> By

<<What Are Personal Boundaries? How Do I Get Some?>> By

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