Difficult Partners

Conflicts do arise, that is just a fact of life. Even the most even-tempered laid back manager or partner is bound to become dissatisfied or angered with some aspect at some point and an explosion is inevitable. After all, no one can live up to his or her potential 100% of the time and we are all entitled to a meltdown every now and again. The question here is not so much how you can prevent your peers from acting in this manner but rather what you can do to help that person vent their feelings and get the conflict turned around. Here are some guidelines that can help relieve the situation should it present itself:

  • Allow the person to be angry, to say what they need to say and to vent their feelings. Once the person has gotten all of the poison out, they will probably start listening to you and allow you to help them out of their situation.
  • Listen actively to what the person is saying. Imagine yourself in the other person's place. What do you think would cause you to say the things this person is saying? Can you surmise any underlying causes? What could someone say to you that would make you feel better about the situation?
  • Show that you can see where the person is coming from and that you can understand why he is upset or angry. Empathize.
  • Discuss options and possibilities for solutions to the person's problem. Do not resolve the problem yourself but lead the other person into an open discussion on the topic that will lead to effective solutions. Offer suggestions.
  • Follow up on the situation a few days later. Check to make sure your partner or peer did what he said he was going to do to resolve the situation and everything is now satisfactory.

The majority of the time, the main reason people become difficult to deal with is because they fear change. For many people, security means consistency and repetition and routine. New rules and challenges that a person feels unprepared for or threatened by can cause the person to react in a hostile manner. People may appear aggressive, snappy, withdrawn or rude when they fear change. So when one of your coworkers starts behaving in this manner, you may recognize the changes as symptoms of someone who fears change and may therefore be able to help guide and comfort your coworker for an easier transition process.