4 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People on Your Team


Conflict on teams is inevitable and unavoidable. That’s why you should worry less about putting a stop to conflict entirely and worry more about managing it effectively. That typically requires you to directly confront difficult people who create friction because of their performance or personality. It’s never easy, but if you don’t address the cause of the conflict at its source it will never go away.

Here are four tips to help you deal with these people as calmly and effectively as possible:

Act with Empathy

First and foremost, you have to acknowledge that problems at work can be caused by problems outside of work. The difficult person on your team might be having health or relationship problems they inevitably carry into the office. These are not excuses, but if you admit that the cause of problems can be complicated, you can approach the solution with the dynamism that it deserves.

Build a Rapport

Phone calls, emails, and passing conversations in the hallway rarely prove effective when trying to resolve a conflict. Instead, you need to sit down one to one with the offending team member and have a frank conversation about the issues at play. You also need to tailor your response to the person you’re addressing. Everyone responds to criticism differently. Modulating your response based on your audience helps to diffuse the emotion of the situation and focus the conversation on solutions rather than reprimands.

Be Constructive

Screaming and yelling is never the way to go. If you or your team has a problem with someone, define the problem as clearly as possible, and then lay out a path for correcting it. You should also only focus on performance and never resort to personal attacks. At the end of your conversation, ask the other person to summarize the cause of the problems and describe for you the solutions. Checking for understanding like this eliminates misunderstandings and makes the employee more accountable for their behavior moving forward.

Act Fast

There is no reason to let problems persist, even if they seem minor or temporary. Don’t count on them working themselves out naturally. In many cases they will only get worse if they go unaddressed. The minute you’re made aware that a team member is making things difficult for the people around them, put a response plan into action. After an issue gets resolved, revisit it on occasion to ensure that negative elements are not creeping back in.

We said earlier that these kinds of conflicts are unavoidable. But you can cut down on the frequency and severity of them by relying on a more strategic recruitment style. Staffing your ranks with team players helps you focus your time and energy on seizing opportunities rather than overcoming challenges. Get the help you need to find the professionals you want for employment in Pittsburgh by working with JH Technical Services.

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