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7 Ways to Deal with Annoying People and Still Get Things Done

7 Ways to Deal with Annoying People and Still Get Things Done

7 Ways to Deal with Annoying People and Still Get Things Done

    It’s a basic fact of life that, unless you’re Will Rogers, you can’t get along with everyone. Unfortunately, it’s also a fact that throughout your life, you’ll be in situations where you simply have to communicate with some of those people you just can’t stand. This may be an annoying boss, an ingratiating fan, a spineless co-worker, a difficult client, an abrasive in-law, and any number of people with any number of faults.

    As much as you might like to run away and hide when you see these people coming, you’ll often need to work with them, sometimes (too) closely, in order to achieve your goals. You don’t always have to be nice – professional and to-the-point will often get the job done just as well – but you do need to make yourself understood clearly or risk letting your dislike translate into inefficient communication that hinders or even undermined entirely whatever projects you’re working on.

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    Fortunately, all it really takes is patience  — with yourself as much as with the other person — and a little discipline to make sure you stay on the same page – and that you don’t get caught up in whatever makes them so hard to get along  with in the first place.

    1. Listen.

    A lot of conflicts are based in misunderstandings, so always make sure you’re getting everything, It can be easy enough to tune someone out when they annoy you; the trick is to use careful questioning to focus the other person on the topic at hand so they give you what you need and avoid straying too far. Poor listening leads to misunderstandings that need clarification – which means more time spent with someone you’d really rather not be around.

    2. Repeat everything.

    Besides the tendency to tune out people you’d rather avoid, our feelings about another person can color our perception of what they’re saying. To avoid this, repeat back any instructions, questions, or other problems they pose to you to make sure you absolutely understand  what they’re saying. Give them a chance to correct you before you go off half-cocked, sure you know what “that kind of person” wants.

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    3. Keep your cool.

    It’s tempting to want to argue with people who rub you the wrong way, or to lose it and start pointing out their faults. Don’t do that! Unless they’re wrong  about something  that directly and materially affects you, don’t bother – starting a debate or, worse, an argument will only prolong your agony – and neither of you is likely to change your mind. Save the debates for when you’re with friends whose opinions matter to you.

    4. Be clear about boundaries.

    You don’t have to be friends with everyone. Which means you don’t have to do favors for everyone who asks. If someone’s encroaching on your time, simply tell them, “I’m sure this is important to you but it simply isn’t a priority for me right now. I really need to work on x and not y.” Again, there’s no need to be mean, just redirect the conversations whenever conversation drifts into areas that aren’t relevant and where you know you’ll be annoyed.

    5. Fight fire with ice.

    The  worst thing you can do with an angry or irrational person is engage him or her. In the heat of aggression, any word or action interpreted as aggressive in response will only trigger more aggression – and most of the item, if someone is upset and railing about it, every word and action will be read as aggression. As hard as it might seem to do, the best thing is to sit quietly and let them spend themselves ranting and raving, and then ask if they’d like to schedule a time to discuss the matter more calmly and return to whatever you were doing. If this sets off another round of yelling, simply wait it out and repeat.

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    It sucks, but the bottom line is you have nothing to gain by engaging with an irate person in the heat of the moment. And while it may seem that you’re giving up control of the situation – after all, you’re sitting there passively taking it all in, even abuse – most people feel ashamed and contrite after an outburst, especially one in which their target clearly was not responding to or inciting them, which puts you back in charge when there’s actually something you can do about the situation.

    6. Close the door.

    While you may have to interact with people you don’t care for in any number of situations, remember that your time  is your own and don’t let other people, especially ones you’d rather not interact with, take control of your time.

    Communication outside of the narrow band needed to fulfill both of your objectives should be minimized – which often means forcefully limiting such talk. Make it clear when you are unavailable, and make yourself unavailable as often as possible. If you have the power, require that your partner make an appointment, and gently reject any effort to discuss your work or projects outside of that scheduled time. People – even annoying people – tend to respect the time of people who make a clear showing that they take their own time very seriously.

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    7. You’re valuable. Remember it.

    If you’ve found yourself in a position where you are obligated for some reason to spend time with someone you dislike, remember that most likely, they are in the same position – and it’s you they dislike. But you wouldn’t be in that situation if you didn’t provide something of value – whether that’s a work skill or talent, specialized knowledge, even things as abstract as emotional support or solidarity. You have a mission, so to speak, and everything that distracts you from that mission reduces your value.

    Remember that, and don’t be afraid to remind others of that. You are valuable, which means they need you as much as you need them. If you’re spending your working time listening to someone on your team going on and on about the sandwich she made the night before for her lunch today, it’s ok to remind her that she’s not making the best use of the value  you bring.

    People that are annoying, difficult, selfish, boring, or otherwise a chore to deal with are that way for reasons that have nothing to do with you – it’s not your job to fix, engage with, or indulge those tendencies. Don’t worry abut figuring them out or correcting them, worry instead about how you’re going to manage their  annoyances  without letting it hinder your ability to achieve your own goals. What is your place is to take the control the other person has clearly relinquished, and making sure you get out of the contact what you need. The tips above will help.

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    Last Updated on April 11, 2019

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

    I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

    I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

    Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    How Communication Skills Help Your Success

    Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

    Create a Positive Experience

    Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

    When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

    What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

    Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

    As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

    Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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    Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

    Help Leadership Skills

    It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

    Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

    As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

    Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

    If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

    Build Better Teams

    Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

    In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

    If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

    When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

    Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

    Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

    1. Listen

    Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

    Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

    People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

    Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

    Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

    2. Know Your Audience

    Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

    Here is a good way to think about it:

    Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

    You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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    3. Minimize

    I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

    He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

    Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

    State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

    The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

    4. Over Communicate

    So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

    What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

    Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

    Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

    Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

    There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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    5. Body Language

    The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

    When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

    In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

    When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

    Conclusion

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

    Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

    There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    Now go communicate your way to success.

    More Resources About Effective Communication

    Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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