Let’s assume, just for a moment, we ARE the difficult people. You and me.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I can be difficult at times.
So think about “How is it or when is it I contribute to the ‘difficult people’ problem?”
How does my behavior trigger or reinforce this behavior in someone else?
What can I do differently to diffuse this relationship?
There’s a “Difficult People Tips Newsletter”
It’s from Glasgow, Scotland so be ready for spellings such as organisation and behaviour. And words such as whilst (which I think is pretty charming, actually). You’ll get his humor, this from issue No. 1, Exploring your Options: “You might be offered another job or have a major win on the lottery. You get my drift – These are long shots, subject to the Fates.” Another, “Be a little wary of being used as a cannon ball for someone else’s agenda.” The author Steve Quinn suggests we work to control our “behaviour”. By issue 3, which was five weeks after issue 1, he’s on “a fun look” at the 10 bosses from hell. Issue 2 is The Assertiveness Grid.
The tips are focused most often with the boss as the difficult person, but I don’t have a problem adjusting his tips to be other people. The Web site is http://www.difficultpeopletips.com/. Sign up for the free newsletter in the column on the left. Quinn’s credentials are quite interesting; it’s a link below the newsletter sign up.
This is a column on Ophra.com which gives four ways to deal with energy vampires such as the sob sister, the charmer, the blamer and the drama queen. http://www2.oprah.com/spiritself/lybl/control/ss_lybl_control_13.jhtml
A coworker sent me the Ophra link. Feel free to send me topics or links you think relate to civility in the workplace. I may not use them right away, but eventually suggestions seem to fit.
“We deem those happy who from the experience of life have learnt to bear its ills without being overcome by them.”
--Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology (1875–1961)
Have you heard coworkers talking about book clubs? Book clubs are a good thing because you read books you probably wouldn’t have selected. Instead of dwelling on the difficult people around you, try a book. (Find different difficult people.) Here’s one my book club read last year that is still on the bestseller nonfiction paperback list:
Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World
by Tracy Kidder, biography, 336 pages, published 2003
At the heart of this book is a life based on hope and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”: as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too. Paul Farmer is a doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist and anthropologist. In medical school he found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. This book shows how radical change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable, and how a meaningful life can be created.
I wrote down these things from that book that impressed me:
AMCs (Areas of Moral Clarity)
Situations, rare in the world, where what ought to be done seems perfectly clear but the doing is always complicated, always difficult.
“People think we’re unrealistic. They don’t know we’re crazy.”
Jim Yong Kim, MD, Partners in Health, Harvard professor
Paul Farmer biography, Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School
Dealing with difficult people, Nov. 18, 2006
Difficult people....again, Jan. 18, 2007