How To Work With Difficult People

Managing teams is not an easy thing, and this is specially because working with teams involves working with people. Teams can be amazing and easy to work with when everyone carries a good attitude and has no problem in being responsible and carrying the load, but it can get a bit hard when you have difficult people on your team.

Difficult people may involve people who are irresponsible, people who find it hard to work with others, people who can’t handle feedback or simply have a bad attitude. But the important thing to remember is that they are people, and people can change.

So we will try to give you some advice on how to start that process of change in others and hopefully it will give you some perspective and help you overcome the situation you are going through at the workplace.

How to work with difficult people

Defining Boundaries 

Some people may think that boundaries are something we just apply with children, but the professional world would be so much better if everyone understood that boundaries are important in all stages of life.

Defining boundaries with your team members in areas such as working ethics, procedures and relationships will save you a lot of possible problems. Let your workers know what is expected, what is not expected of them and what is acceptable as well.

One of the most common problems in the office is defining boundaries when it comes to authority and roles. Some people may overstep your authority making decisions that they are not supposed to make in their roles and therefore affecting the company. When this happens, make it clear to them that it is you who makes those calls, or whoever is responsible for the area.

People grow even more when they learn to work within boundaries and remember that love puts limits in place as well. The fact that you are saying no to certain behaviours to improve performance and team culture, will be something that they might not understand in the beginning but will definitely have its fruits in the end.

Challenging attitudes

Many people are scared of confrontation, they believe that if they tell their co-workers or team members what they don’t want to hear their employees will decrease their performance or get offended.

The reality is that offense is a choice, you can decide to take feedback as an offense or use it to grow. But as a leader the growth of your people is your responsibility. Of course it is theirs as well, but your role involves doing as much as it is in your power to help them grow and develop their potential.

So if you see a bad attitude in a team member, it is your responsibility to challenge it. It is better to challenge one person’s bad attitude than to see the whole team fall apart because you didn’t deal with it.

On the other hand, remember to always challenge with love. Tell the truth, but do it with grace and give the person time to change as well. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. You are not looking for perfect people, but for a team that continually moves forward even though they make mistakes on the way.

Gold digging 

It is funny but people might think that a leader’s role is to show off their own talent, their own skills, but that is definitely not the job of a leader. They are meant to be gold diggers, digging through the layers of insecurity, attitudes, and lack of skill in some areas to find the true potential in people.

A true leader sees not only what is in front of them, but looks at people through the eyes of what they can become. Remember you were also a rookie once, but hopefully someone believed in you more than you believed in yourself to dig the gold out of you.


Why should I give him/her another opportunity? Sound familiar?

Opportunities are perfect to show what people have on the inside of them, to discover new talents and skills, and also to discover what it is that they need to work on. Your job as a leader is to give your team members opportunities according to where they are at in their journey. Don’t give them more than what they can carry, but see what they do with what they have in their hands, trust them first with the small to later give them more important projects.

Hey, there is no such thing as difficult people. People are just people, but some of them are just difficult to work with. If you see it like that it will help you value them for who they are and work at helping them reach their full potential.

But tell us, how would you work with people you consider “difficult” to work with?


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