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How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

Regardless of what you do for work, you will have to deal with difficult people.

Prior to starting my own business, I was employed by a large community hospital. Despite the corporate policies for conflict management and dispute resolution, the presence of administration, and being part of a team of so-called “professionals,” there were plenty of difficult people that came with the job.

In addition to following the 9 rules for conflict management, understanding how to strategically deal with difficult people at work puts you at an advantage.

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Introspect and Take Responsibility

When you find yourself feeling frustrated and confused about what to do, recognize that you are not a victim of the situation or that frustrating person. You are feeling a certain way about the other person and the situation. The situation or person is not making you feel anything.

If you put yourself in a victimized state by blaming someone else for how you feel, it becomes easy to become overwhelmed and confused about what to do. Ask yourself: why I am feeling this way? Is it a problem with me and how I feel, or is it a problem with the other person? Try to understand the role your reaction is playing in this situation.

Don’t Gossip

Sharing the story of what happened with you and the other person may seem therapeutic, but at work, sharing can become more toxic than helpful. This is because the horizontal communication (communication between co-workers) that occurs within an organization can easily become a game of telephone that has gotten completely out of control.

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Resist the urge to “set the story straight” before the other person does. If you are asked about the situation, be honest. Acknowledge that there is a conflict, but say that you are not comfortable discussing it at work.

Find a Solution

Before you start seeking some sort of resolution for dealing with the difficult person, brainstorm possible solutions.

Consider what can be done to either mend the problem or develop a relationship with the other person that does not affect your performance, confidence, or productivity at work.

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Speak With The Person Directly

After you have introspected and brainstormed possible solutions, ask to speak with the difficult person privately, away from other co-workers. If you are concerned about the outcome or are simply uncomfortable being alone with the person, have a chaperon (e.g., a responsible co-worker, manager, or lead) accompany you throughout the conversation. They act as a mediator ensuring that the conversation remains constructive and can act as a record of what occurred.

Take responsibility for what you say, speaking in terms of “I” and not “you”. In fact, this use of language is one of the easiest changes you can make for more confidence.

Keep Record of Your Conversations

Take notes and keep documentation of when you spoke with the difficult person, the date/time, and what action was taken. This helps ensure that your future recollection and discussion about the conversation is accurate and will help prevent further conflict.

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Follow Policy and Procedure

Many organizations have systems and policies in place for resolving conflicts and how to deal with difficult people at work. In addition to documentation, these procedures often involve a superior or a risk management department that will help mediate between you and the difficult person.

Although it may seem like a hassle, remaining in alignment with these policies ensures that you are in integrity with your own values and that of your employer.

Grow From The Experience

Regardless of the outcome, recognize that every experience you have contains a lesson. Be it simply growth in your resilience, noticing your ability to solve problems, or recognizing a flaw in your employers policies and procedures, you can benefit from the experience.

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Last Updated on May 20, 2020

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

Everybody makes bad decisions. Some people, however, are more capable of making better decisions that inch them closer to success.

These individuals are not ruled by emotions, desires, or hunches. Rather, they depend on their analytical skills to overcome challenges regardless of urgency or complexity.

What Are Analytical Skills?

According to Richards J. Heuer Jr., a former veteran of the CIA,[1]

“Thinking analytically is a skill like carpentry or driving a car. It can be taught, it can be learned, and it can improve with practice. But unlike other skills, it is not learned by sitting in a classroom and being told how to do it. Analysts learn by doing.”

Analytical skills can be considered as one of the critical life skills that are not taught in schools. It comprises of visualization, critical thinking, and abilities for gathering and processing information.

Here’s a closer look at some of these abilities:

Visualization

Also tied to a person’s creativity, visualization is the ability to predict the possible outcomes of strategies and actions. In a professional setting, visualization involves the analysis of data – often through illustrations like charts, graphs, and detailed lists.

Critical Thinking

Simply put, a person’s ability to think critically can be measured by his or her consistency in creating reasonable decisions. It pertains to the ability to evaluate information, siphon what’s useful, and draw conclusions without being swayed by emotions.

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As a critical thinker, you’ll find yourself challenging assertions and finding loopholes in proposed solutions.

Computing

Whether you like it or not, you need to be comfortable with numbers if you want to sharpen your analytical skills. Bear in mind that computing encompasses other skills like cost analysis, budgeting, and performing general calculations.

In business, you need to use computations when weighing the risks and benefits of any given strategy.

Problem-Solving

Remember that analytical skills are used not just to understand problems, but also to develop the most suitable course or courses of action. This relates to your goal-setting skills, which involve breaking down and prioritizing between objectives.

Resource Management

Lastly, analytical skills involve some degree of resource management depending on the task at hand.

For example, professionals with a tight schedule must know how to effectively manage their own time – also known as one of the most important resources in the world.

Business leaders, on the other hand, must know how to manage company resources, including cash and manpower. Take note that the definition of analytical skills may change to match the requirements of a specific situation.

For example, upon hiring a web developer, analytical skills may refer to the ability to determine the needs of online users, understand web analytics for optimization, and identify visual elements that can match a company’s brand.

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The skillset above, however, should be applicable in most if not all scenarios.

Develop Your Analytical Skills for More Growth Opportunities

There’s no question that the right decisions lead to positive results. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a business or simply trying to climb the corporate ladder. By training your analytical skills, you position yourself for more growth opportunities while staying away from negligible actions you will regret.

For example, you plan to launch a new startup in your local community – but struggle to decide the niche you want to enter. Since you’ve been a technophile your whole life, part of you desires to invest in a gadget store. If you’re passionate about your business, success will come – right?

If you have sharp analytical skills, you begin to see your plans in whole new dimensions.

What are the possible outcomes of this venture? Does the local market have a need for a new gadget store? How much do I need to get started – and how much should I sell to make a profit?

Depending on your findings, you can determine the feasibility of your business idea without letting your emotions get in the way.

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Analytical Skills

There are several approaches when it comes to developing an individual’s analytical skills. For instance, psychologists agree that reading fantasy stories as a child can help sharpen critical thinking.[2]

Research also suggests that undergoing traditional education has a positive effect on a person’s IQ and analytical skills.[3]

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But as an adult, such opportunities to hone your analytical skills no longer apply. That’s why you need to devise a more deliberate, active approach yourself.

Below are a few strategies to get you started:

1. Ideate Business Ideas

Developing a profitable business idea, whether you pursue them or not, involves numerous challenges. You need a ton of research, computations, and problem-solving to create a tangible business plan.

You can organize your ideas with a note-taking tool like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. Doing so will allow you to delve deeper into your analysis, organize your findings, and stay focused on roadblocks as well as how to solve them.

2. Leverage Analytical Tools

Aside from note-taking tools, you can also leverage other software that can help with analytical tasks. A money management app like Mint, for example, makes it easy to track your spending habits as well as manage your budget with visual tools. When it comes to prioritizing goals, you can use simple task management apps like Trello or Wunderlist.

3. Have a Personal Learning Library

Thanks to the internet, there’s a colossal amount of resources you can utilize to learn new skills, expand your vocabulary, and train your visualization muscles.

Social media networks like SlideShare and YouTube, for example, offer mountains of tutorials you can access to your heart’s content.

For a personalized learning library, you can download Instagram videos or GIFs from educational accounts like NASA Goddard and the American Mathematical Society. But if you prefer specific, technical skills, then a good place to start would be online learning platforms like Coursera, edX, and Alison.

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4. Participate in Online Communities

The internet is a great place to share experiences, opinions, and sometimes intellectual discussions with like-minded individuals. Reddit, for example, has a place or “subreddit” dedicated for every topic imaginable – from technology to entrepreneurship.

For structured debates, you can head to websites like Debate.org and let other users choose the winner via votes.

5. Seek Mental Stimulation

To keep your mind sharp, make it a habit to engage in mentally stimulating activities, such as chess, puzzles, and brain training apps. A great resource would be Lumosity, which contains dozens of cognitive games designed by teams of scientists and game designers.

6. Keep a Personal Journal

Finally, keeping a personal journal allows you to take a second look at everything that happened in your day.

Remember that writing about learning experiences lets you focus on the lesson rather than the emotion. It will help you analyze how you made your decisions, why you came to certain conclusions, and what you can do to improve in the future.

Here’s How to Create a Habit of Writing in a Journal.

Bottom Line

As an adult, you are required to face a myriad of challenges on a daily basis. Work, school, business, relationships – the list goes on when it comes to the sources of life’s problems. With analytical skills, you can confront and overcome any obstacle standing between you and your goals.

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Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] M. S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences: Analytical Thinking?
[2] KD Novelties: Why You Should Read Classic Tales to Your Children
[3] Economic Inquiry: The Effect of Education on Cognitive Ability

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