Author Topic: How do you deal when working with difficult people?  (Read 2313 times)

Healthie

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 199
How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« on: August 21, 2020, 04:18:20 PM »
I work in healthcare. we're in a union. A couple people I work with have poor communication skills, are passive aggressive at times, and I don't trust them. Our boss knows and it seems there's little that can be done.

Compounding this I have some house problems that I'm finding overwhelming, and the stress is increasing my frustation with my workplace. Our work has been slow lately. Aside from this I don't have any mentionable stressors.

I'm in a term with a good job title. I have another year before it expires and I don't want to get another position.

What do you find helps you in these sort of situations? I'm looking at getting some counselling because I had a rough last week and I need to work on coping with this. Any words would be helpful.

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3504
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2020, 05:48:05 PM »
Honestly? I never figured it out. I'm working on switching careers to something where passive aggressive co-workers can't control my day to day work.

You can try looking for a employer where that behavior isn't tolerated, but from what I've heard anecdotally, I don't have high hopes for that in the healthcare field.

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4312
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2020, 05:57:07 PM »
I deal with it by quitting and finding a new job somewhere better. My current employer seems to have a zero-tolerance policy for both assholes and idiots, which I've never encountered anywhere before. On a day to day basis, I've found that running retirement projections for different scenarios is very therapeutic. Like, looking at what my income would be if I retired today, or what date my current trajectory lands on, etc.

markbike528CBX

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1804
  • Location: the Everbrown part of the Evergreen State (WA)
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2020, 06:16:38 PM »
I deal with it by quitting and finding a new job somewhere better. My current employer seems to have a zero-tolerance policy for both assholes and idiots, which I've never encountered anywhere before. On a day to day basis, I've found that running retirement projections for different scenarios is very therapeutic. Like, looking at what my income would be if I retired today, or what date my current trajectory lands on, etc.

Beware,when you are getting close to a 4% rule number, your patience with idiots, even minor ones can stretch thin. This way may lead to One Less Year(OLY) as it did me. For me the people were OK, but the project was just draining.  My 1+ hour/day at work on my spreadsheet was not a motivator for "sticking it out".  As soon as the project was gone from my purview, I bailed.

Currently FIREd and playing Kerbal Space Program while on MMM forum.  The ion thrusters take _forever_ to do anything.

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3763
  • Age: 84
  • Location: The oubliette.
  • Ghouls Just Wanna Have Funds!
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2020, 06:47:12 PM »
You have to reframe your relationship with work/coworkers.

If you're unable to do work without interacting with asshats, then you do what you can and politely ask for what you need from the asshats. If they give you excuses/lie or otherwise make it impossible for you to work, you escalate it to your supervisor:

Hey, boss - just wanted to bring this to your attention. I was supposed to work on the frambulatory service this week, but Doofus has not completed their ordering process for the frambulators. I asked them last Tuesday, and again yesterday and there is no sign that this will be completed by them and they are giving me no idea on when this can be wrapped up. What do you want me to do here?"

Any possible "just do Doofus' work" or "figure it out yourself" response: "I've tried before, but it just doesn't seem to help and I'm not able to do their work for them, and I can't move forward on the frambulation until their work is completed. I can switch to working on the boromaster therapy at this point, but Doofus will need to get their work completed before any further work by me can proceed."

And start treating the coworkers like children. Speak nicely but firmly about what you need from them. You don't have to make small talk or be overly nice - be polite but firm and very clear - suggest any verbal exchange be followed up with an email so there is an element of CYA. No sense in getting invested in what they do wrong. Just do what you can, make sure to report when coworkers throw down roadblocks and offer to work on something else until boss can kick the coworker into doing their job (that's what bosses are supposed to do - either make sure their department works, or removes the people that don't).

You state you're in a union - you know that likely protects you too?

So if so... you may need to embrace your inner Peter. Do you remember the movie Office Space? Peter just stopped caring, stopped worrying. He relaxed and learned to say no to stupid requests, dumb questions, and slacked off completely. You don't have to totally give up working... but you could just add a bit of I don't GAF to your workday. Do what you can, and if stupid people are being stupid, clue the boss in "hey, can't finish this project because Doofus didn't do their part of the work needed" and go do something else and leave the stupid in his lap. Things don't get done enough, they'll either deal with it or finally take a hard look at getting rid of or at least creatively moving the slackers. ;)

But practical stuff TL/DR suggestions: learn to let go of things you can't change. Meditate. Take up yoga. Deep breathing. Or even listen to REALLY crazy loud music and work out or go for a hard run after work to get some frustration/aggression out.

Remind yourself you're likely way smarter and will be able to quit your job and be FIRE and they're going to be stuck working in crappy places for the rest of their lives. :D

Healthie

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 199
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2020, 07:11:17 PM »
Very happy to have the responses everyone: thank you. Itís nice to know Iím not alone in this boat.

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4312
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2020, 07:26:39 PM »
I deal with it by quitting and finding a new job somewhere better. My current employer seems to have a zero-tolerance policy for both assholes and idiots, which I've never encountered anywhere before. On a day to day basis, I've found that running retirement projections for different scenarios is very therapeutic. Like, looking at what my income would be if I retired today, or what date my current trajectory lands on, etc.

Beware,when you are getting close to a 4% rule number, your patience with idiots, even minor ones can stretch thin. This way may lead to One Less Year(OLY) as it did me. For me the people were OK, but the project was just draining.  My 1+ hour/day at work on my spreadsheet was not a motivator for "sticking it out".  As soon as the project was gone from my purview, I bailed.

Currently FIREd and playing Kerbal Space Program while on MMM forum.  The ion thrusters take _forever_ to do anything.

I hear you. At this point we've got all our non-travel spending covered and are working on building up our lifetime travel fund, so it's just a question of how fancy-pants we want our post-retirement travel to be. I could see getting really pissed off one day and saying "fuck it, we'll stay in hostels".

Mrs. Sloth

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 161
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2020, 07:47:26 PM »
Not sure if this is helpful but all I do is vent to co-workers, cuss a ton, and calculate my FIRE number ALL the time to see how soon I can escape. Dealing with difficult and at times rude assholes professionals is an inherent part of my "job" and it isn't something that can be changed unless I change careers.

Freedomin5

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5025
  • Location: China
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2020, 12:22:21 AM »
We have a few difficult people at work. I minimize interactions with them. If I have to work with them, I stay task-focused and professional with them. No chitchat or asking about their family or their day. If theyíre not performing the tasks theyíre hired to perform, and Iíve asked nicely (via email) twice, I look my boss and their boss into the email chain with a ďJust want to follow up on my emails sent on 6/18 and 7/2 regarding Thing.Ē

I donít trust most of the people I work with. I document important requests via email, and I do my part to follow up if they drop the ball. Then I escalate. Sometimes, Iíll go ask for advice from my supervisor as a way to put a bug in his ear and get a potentially hairy situation on his radar. If it gets resolved without his intervention, I give him an update so he can see how awesome my problem solving skills are. :P

Obviously, this doesnít always work, in which case, I just professionally and factually focus on how to solve the problem rather than accepting or shifting blame.

Malcat

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11043
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2020, 05:34:24 AM »
I think therapy is a great idea.

It's often hard to distinguish between people driving your crazy and you being burnt out. Often it's both.

tthree

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 424
  • Location: Canada
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2020, 06:03:13 AM »
This is my life.  I work in unionized healthcare....except the person that is untrustworthy, has poor communication skills, and is passive aggressive is my boss.  It's an ideal situation! /sarcasm.

The emails I'm sending boss sound a lot like what Frankies Girl suggested.  This worked for a while....then boss just started ignoring them and doesn't answer (see.....problem solved!!).

SwordGuy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8700
  • Location: Fayetteville, NC
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2020, 04:12:49 PM »
Lots of good advice already!

I found this book to be very useful.   

So far, I have a 100% "this was a great book! thanks!" response from those who have read it at my recommendation.

Works with co-workers, works in prison with prisoners and guards, works with family.

https://www.amazon.com/Dealing-People-Stand-Revised-Expanded/dp/0071785728/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=how+to+deal+with+people+you+can%27t+stand&qid=1598134175&sr=8-

And dear God, but the advice on how to deal with a Sniper was awesomely fun to implement...

foghorn

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 144
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2020, 07:05:52 AM »
I too deal with a few jerks at work.  I swear, I think a couple of them are sociopaths as they actually appear to enjoy causing problems and messing with people.  As someone else mentioned, do be careful (or maybe take advantage) if you are approaching FIRE or your FU fund is in good shape.  I know that I push back hard and confront some of these people as I will not tolerate some of this behavior.  Knowing that I could walk out the door and never need to come back gives me power to take less of their crap.  I say things to some of these people now - that I would never have said 10 years ago.  The power of the MMM lifestyle and an FU Fund.

Here is one book a read years ago that was really helpful.  The No Asshole Rule.  A quick read that is totally worth the time.

https://www.amazon.com/Asshole-Rule-Civilized-Workplace-Surviving/dp/0446698202/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+no+asshole+rule&qid=1598187406&sr=8-1

markum9

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2020, 11:48:36 AM »
Adding another book recommendation:  Crucial Conversations.  It really helped me look into the reasons behind bad co-worker behavior, and understand and adapt my responses to it.

Catica

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 492
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2020, 12:34:36 PM »
What is a passive-aggressive behavior?

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 19271
  • Age: 64
  • Location: NorCal
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2020, 12:36:29 PM »
I saved my ass off and FIRE'd. I know that's not a very helpful answer, but it's an honest one.

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3763
  • Age: 84
  • Location: The oubliette.
  • Ghouls Just Wanna Have Funds!
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2020, 01:24:41 PM »
What is a passive-aggressive behavior?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive-aggressive_behavior


Mostly, it's when people complain all the time, make snide comments and use tone to convey they they are angry/upset about things but won't actually come out and say the words "I don't want to do this task." or "I don't like you/this/whatever." They think by being negative and otherwise doing a crap job when forced to do so will somehow get them out of doing the task, or making things so awful people will avoid them and just do things themselves - without the P/A person outright being called on their lack of compliance.

It's a shit way of dealing with problems because it's cowardly, lazy and immature; they think if they can ignore/lie/avoid somehow but not really state they're doing this, then it's not technically their fault/responsibility. But lots of people act this way. And bosses and other cowokers (and really, families and friendships) end up working around the P/A person if they otherwise have to have them around.

clarkfan1979

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2963
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Pueblo West, CO
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2020, 02:46:01 PM »
We as humans overestimate the fairness in the world. In psychology, we call this the just world hypothesis. Unfortunately, working with ass hats is part of our world. Sometimes they get promoted before more deserving people for many different reasons.

It's very possible that you will never find a reasonable solution to working with ass hats. That is part of the reason why the FIRE movement and this blog is so popular.

In college, I worked at restaurant A. The manager was an ass hat and I lasted 4 months. I then worked at restaurant B. The manager was good with numbers and people. I worked there for two years. I would have worked there longer, but I graduated from undergrad.

Michael in ABQ

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1962
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2020, 03:05:23 PM »
I'll be returning to a government job soon where I am the boss. Unfortunately, most of the people who work for me, so to speak, are contractors. Therefore, I can't really tell them what to do and I certainly can't fire them when they sit on their asses and do no work all day. The contract they're on still has another 6-8 months left and it's much larger so the contractor won't do anything about it. It's frustrating that instead of getting the work done, all I can do is ask the few good people to please do all the work their lazy co-workers aren't, and document the failure of the contractor. My boss has been dealing with it in my absence but the long-term solution is still far in the future.

It's a lot nicer having command authority in the military. If people are failing I can fire them, or at least remove them from a leadership position and tell them to get sit in the corner or find something semi-productive for them to do. I can also use the uniform code of military justice. Of course, there's still some cases where there are people you can't easily replace because they're doing just enough to get by.

Still, it's another reason I'm looking to go into business for myself. Then I'm either relying on myself or if I hire people, I can fire them just as quickly.

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1692
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2020, 08:45:06 PM »
I try to use positive reinforcement with difficult people, especially passive aggressive people. Even though it feels fake and it grates on your nerves to reward them in any way, it works fairly well.

When they do something remotely good, even if it's just their job, tell them how much you appreciate them and the work they do. Thank them for taking the time to help you with something, even if that thing is literally their only function. When you approach them, ask them if it's a good time. If they say no, move away. If they say no repeatedly, ask them if it would be alright to book a time on their calendar.

When you can't think of anything else to say, compliment their hair, their outfits, ask them about their pets or children. Try to only talk about the things that interest them. Don't waste time talking about your own children or pets unless they ask. This isn't about actually being their friend or bonding with them.

THEY believe their time is precious and that what they do is more important than what anyone else does. So if you take a moment to play into their ego a bit, it makes them feel appreciated by you.

It will hurt your ego to do it, because they don't deserve compliments and kudos.

ctuser1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1741
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2020, 08:04:51 AM »
OP, how you deal with it will depend on specifics.

1. How long have you worked?
2. Why don't you trust these two co-workers? Integrity issues? or plain bad blood, but they are honest?
3. Are they peers? subordinate?

Depending on these specifics, the remedy may range from:
1. "This is abuse and these two colleagues are contributing to a 'hostile workplace', a legal term. Please consider escalating to HR and then legally if appropriate."
to
2. "You're inexperienced and don't understand how to withstand workplace demands of professional behavior. Please grow up!"

Unfortunately, while abuse is a big issue, I see more and more instances of what I call "wussification of America" that pushes people into workplaces while still snowflakes. So I see #2 way too many times, including some people very close to me who reached out to me for advice after they started working out of college.

OTOH, Consistent micro-aggression or harassment, even when asked to stop multiple times, can be grounds for what the law will consider "abuse".

If you are in the US, you will likely be getting workplace anti-harassment training(s) every year that may help clarify these issues.

Psychstache

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1385
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2020, 08:23:09 AM »
OP, how you deal with it will depend on specifics.

1. How long have you worked?
2. Why don't you trust these two co-workers? Integrity issues? or plain bad blood, but they are honest?
3. Are they peers? subordinate?

Depending on these specifics, the remedy may range from:
1. "This is abuse and these two colleagues are contributing to a 'hostile workplace', a legal term. Please consider escalating to HR and then legally if appropriate."
to
2. "You're inexperienced and don't understand how to withstand workplace demands of professional behavior. Please grow up!"

Unfortunately, while abuse is a big issue, I see more and more instances of what I call "wussification of America" that pushes people into workplaces while still snowflakes. So I see #2 way too many times, including some people very close to me who reached out to me for advice after they started working out of college.

OTOH, Consistent micro-aggression or harassment, even when asked to stop multiple times, can be grounds for what the law will consider "abuse".

If you are in the US, you will likely be getting workplace anti-harassment training(s) every year that may help clarify these issues.

Counter point: unfortunately, while there are some corner cases of extreme sensitivity, I see more and more instances of people who complain about "the wussification of America" are generally just assholes who want to behave like assholes and get mad when they and other assholes get called out for acting like assholes (see the late, great Mr Orange as a recent example on this very board).

Employer anti harrassment training is a checkbox and a CYA for the organization, do not confuse it for useful advice.

OP, there have been some good examples of advice in here, but I really like @clarkfan1979 s reminder that the world is not fair or just. It simply is. Do your best to develop should to work around and with incompetent and difficult people, but overall I think the advice to look for a place where the climate and culture don't tolerate that kind of behavior is the best long term solution. They're rare, as good leadership in general is rare, but it can be found.

ctuser1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1741
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2020, 09:01:27 AM »
Counter point: unfortunately, while there are some corner cases of extreme sensitivity, I see more and more instances of people who complain about "the wussification of America" are generally just assholes who want to behave like assholes and get mad when they and other assholes get called out for acting like assholes (see the late, great Mr Orange as a recent example on this very board).

There is some empirical evidence(s) backing what I said. Please look up the recent works of Johathan Haidt.

He argues, with very good set of data and evidences, that the "smartphone" generation entering the workforce now has measurably higher levels of mental health issues compared to earlier generations. He hypothesizes that may be caused by addiction to smartphones and social media before a certain age when the brain has had a chance to fully develop.

He came to this via his research on cancel culture.

---------------------------
And now for the irony for the day - if an asshole "gets mad" at being called out for being an asshole then he/she himself/herself is a snowflake.

I use the asshole card plenty of times at work. When I do, I generally have very good reasoning why, and why a softer approach won't work, IMO. So when "called out", I either double down, or explain the reasoning if I think that will effect change, or - in some rare circumstances - back down and apologize if I was in the wrong (which has happened). When I'm using the asshole card in good faith, "get mad when called out" is not a part of any of these three options.


Morning Glory

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4126
  • Location: The Garden Path
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2020, 09:27:54 AM »
Healthcare just sucks right now. It might help to convince yourself that the pandemic is bringing out the worst in these people and they are just as stressed as you are. It doesn't matter if it's true or not.

The thing that helps me the most is to go outside for a walk on my lunch break every day, especially now with the requirement to wear a mask and glasses while indoors.

Take time to prepare decent meals. Having a lunch and dinner that you can look forward to helps get through the day.

Do you have some co-workers who you are friendly with? If so try to work in closer proximity to them instead of the passive aggressive people.




ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4326
  • Age: 31
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2020, 01:36:37 PM »
I have one person I need to occasionally work with that I find particularly irritating.  I've recently (after literally years) found the best approach is to figure out what the absolutely most irritating habit/quality they personify is, and then strategize to avoid that in the best way possible.

This work weasel's worst habit is ambushing me at my desk, squeezing two sentences of information into 15 minutes of background and blabbering, giggling at his own unfunny jokes/comments mid-stream, and tooting his own horn about how awesome he is/how busy he is.

My mitigation strategy is to anticipate interactions, and force them myself when he's obviously legitimately busy with something else, or in a hurry to go somewhere else.  This results in me briefly cornering him, giving/receiving the needed info, him being annoyed, and then him quickly leaving.  30 seconds tops, done.

So far, the system works.  It's also turned into a bit of a game for me.  If he comes into my office with something I could have anticipated, it's like I barely missed a traffic light, or I thought there was an extra stair.  "Damn, missed it this time."  So even when I lose, it's not as annoying as before.

He's also an incredible narcissist, and very argumentative when told he's wrong about something.  I've started to get off a bit on saying "I was wrong." and other similar phrases in conversations/arguments with him.  It clearly short-circuits his brain, because he doesn't understand why anyone would say that.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2020, 09:56:15 AM by ketchup »

Fishindude

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3075
Re: How do you deal when working with difficult people?
« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2020, 09:10:55 AM »
Work wouldn't be work and it wouldn't be near as interesting and fun if there weren't a few knuckleheads to deal with.
Don't worry about it, just do your job.   Kill them with kindness and keep a good sense of humor.

Also - Get something going outside of work such as a project or hobby that takes your mind off of work.