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9 Smooth Ways To Deal With Difficult People At Work

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The Best Conflict Resolution Skills & Strategies For Dealing With Difficult People At Work

When disagreements arise between yourself and a fellow coworker (as they inevitably will), knowing the most effective communication and conflict resolution skills to use in the workplace to diffuse tension will help you stay professional in the heat of the moment and strengthen your working relationship, too.

Dealing with difficult people and differences of opinions is never easy, but when equipped with the right conflict management techniques and strategies, you'll get through them more easily and be more likely to avoid issues in the future.

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For example, I have a friend who switches companies on a regular basis. His business cards and email change almost as often as the wind blows. He is a capable and talented employee, but he handles workplace conflicts by cutting ties instead of learning productive conflict resolution skills.

Even though he says it feels like the right thing to do at the time, in the long run, it hurts him and the business relationships he's trying to cultivate.

If you care … fight fair.

It's tempting to cut all contact when you and a colleague butt heads. You just spread the word that you can't work with them any longer, and tell everyone not to sit you together at upcoming events or meetings.

You don't have to explain yourself, apologize, or listen to their side of the story. But if you dismiss every coworker whenever a conflict occurs, you are going to end up in a very cold and unpleasant workplace.

Colleagues, friends, and even loving partners disagree occasionally. That’s life. But don’t simply “throw the baby out with the bathwater” each time that happens.

Instead, take steps to repair and rebuild your working relationships by employing critical conflict resolution techniques that will not only dissolve tension, but strengthen your ties with fellow coworkers, too.

Here are the 9 best conflict resolutions skills and strategies to use in the workplace when dealing with difficult people and problems at work.

1. Make an appointment to discuss the problem.

Find a time when neither of you is dealing with "HALT" issues that prevent you from bringing your best self to the conversation.

People have HALT issues when they feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

2. Stay on topic.

This contains the discussion and helps keep things manageable.

3. Don’t bring up the past.

Avoid words like “always” and “never”. How would you feel if someone said that you always interrupt people when they are talking, or never pick up a check at a restaurant? These types of comments can ignite fresh hostility. Just stick to the issues at hand.

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4. Refrain from name calling.

It's hard to make peace when you are called a “stupid jerk” or worse.

5. Don't share details with your office pals.

This isn't a time to try to get them to join your side of the argument. Doing that just adds to the level of hostility in the workplace, and will negate your positive conflict management strategies.

6. Be willing to listen.

Don’t think of a response while the person you disagree with is still talking. Really hear what they have to say. They may have a legitimate reason for behaving as they did.

You don’t always perceive situations in the same way others do, so give them an opportunity to share their side of the story.

7. Be willing to compromise.

It's harder to resolve a conflict if you expect to win all the time.

8. Take a break, if needed.

If you are too upset to remain open-minded, stop the discussion immediately. Set a mutually convenient time to revisit the problem then do something that calms you.

Take a brisk walk. Listen to music. Meditate.

If you are home, watch some television or take a bath. After you chill a bit, you are likely to feel more compassionate and less argumentative. These conflict management techniques will help make sure you're capable of speaking openly and honestly about the conflict with your coworker.

9. Use “I” statements.

During conflicts, share your feelings with "I" instead of “you” language, which places blame and enflames the battle.

An example of “I” language: “I feel angry because I wasn't consulted.”

An example of “you” language: “You didn’t ask me to speak. What you did was really mean.”

Respectfully manage work-related conflicts that arise. As you do, you will hopefully find that this process strengthens all of your relationships.

RELATED: 5 Ways Your Career Success Depends On Your Effective Communication

Janis Roszler is a therapist who specializes in diabetes-related sexual and relationship issues. Read Janis’ book, Sex and Diabetes For Him and For Her, or visit out her website for more information and insight that can help you transform your romantic relationships.

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