In this post, we explore an issue that one of our podcast listeners is facing, but it’s a common problem in any high-performing team: dealing with difficult people.
Hands up, do you have a difficult colleague or somebody in your team that could be considered difficult?
In the case of our podcast listener, they felt their colleague has high IQ but very low EQ. So we’re going to give you a few ideas on how you might deal with someone who, in your eyes, has a difficult personality.
The good news is if somebody that you are dealing with has a high IQ, they are probably very good at learning things. Anybody in the workplace can learn a new behaviour, so it’s a good start. But do they want to?
Having coached people for over 20 years, we know that people don’t like change and they certainly won’t change their behaviour if it’s imposed on them. There has to be a real need for somebody to want to change their behaviour; it has to be of benefit.
The benefit might be to keep their job, or be promoted by a manager, or to repair their reputation, or even just to improve the quality of their relationships. Either way, there has to be some level of either awareness or motivation.
But really, what right do you have to point that out to somebody unless they are interested in receiving feedback about their behaviour? Really, the only thing you can do is manage how you respond to their behaviour.
If you’re a people leader it is your duty to ensure that the working environment enables people to work to their utmost effectiveness. If a particular team member is really impacting your level of effectiveness or the quality of relationships within the team, then it’s a really important conversation to have. You just do it with care and courage.
Typically, we see leaders deal with difficult behaviour by ignoring it and ignoring those people. By doing that, this habitual way of working with this person becomes ingrained, meaning you can’t grow, they can’t grow and your relationship can’t grow.
It really starts with the quality of the conversations you’re already having or planning to have with your colleague or team member. It’s key that you prepare what you’re going to say. For that, we use the SBIN model: situation behaviour, impact, next step.
So what is the situation you want to talk to them about? What is the behaviour that you are seeing? What is the impact of that behaviour on you and your team? What’s the next step to take?
It’s critical that when you discuss the impact their behaviour is having on you and your team that you are very specific and present key facts, not your opinion. It’s about your observations, what other team members have told you and how you are feeling.
For example, you might explain that their response to your suggestion made you feel diminished and made it appear like you didn’t have enough knowledge, which left you feeling like you were on tenterhooks.
And remember to ask them what they think about the facts you present. It might be enough to help them realise their behaviour is not productive.
Whether you’re a people leader or a team member, dealing with this kind of difficult personality in a colleague can use up a lot of your mental and emotional energy. Anything that’s using up your energy is going to create resistance and stress in the body and diminish your level of effectiveness. So take action in a courageous but careful way.
It’s not just about them changing their behaviour but you need to change the way you talk about or refer to that person. Instead of thinking they are difficult, perhaps you need to think of them as simply different to you.
One of the biggest turnarounds we’ve seen is with someone who agreed to do a 360 feedback. We use a tool called the LSI, or Life Styles Inventory, which is incredible as people actually start to see the impact they are having on people in their team as well as their own level of effectiveness in the team. If you don’t have a level of emotional awareness and self-regulation, your ability to be effective is incredibly diminished.
So, start with yourself; gather some 360 feedback and you might be surprised that you might be seen as the difficult person.
Either way, we encourage you to take action. Check in with yourself first, shift the way you think about the situation and then take action to get a different result.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com.
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