Hell is Other People….4 strategies to try when it’s getting tough

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Simon Bird

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“Hell is other people”

 Firstly – I don’t really think this!

And secondly – this is a very misquoted line from the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. 

 But this misquote does do a good job at distilling how life and work can feel sometimes.

 If I’m involved in a coaching conversation, or running a leadership development programme, I often ask, “What do you worry about most at work?”

 The answer is almost always a variation of dealing with difficult people rather than other issues, such as an overspent budget or an IT project.  But, if it’s the people that cause the most worry, what can you do about it?   I was browsing an article recently (full details in the comments) – which identified some strategies which seemed helpful if your goal is to reduce frustration and anxiety while developing better relationships with colleagues. 

Not Everyone Will Have the Same Perspective

 We all have different perspectives in life. It’s what makes us unique. But how often are we taking a step back and realising that not everyone will agree with us on everything?  So, rather than reacting to a situation with your gut, try to think about the problem from the perspective of those around you. Even if you can’t come to a consensus because each person has a different perspective, an outcome might be an increased insight as to how others see the world.

Keep a Check on Your Own Biases 

 We all have biases, even if we don’t intend to.  For example, when something goes wrong in the office, you might ask yourself, “How could this person get this wrong? It was so easy!”  Of course, judging when it’s not you making a mistake is easy.  However, when you make a mistake, you might say, “I had a lot on my plate. I was overwhelmed, distracted, and trying to get everything done within a certain time.” Rather than being quick to judge when it’s someone else, try to see things from their perspective. Have compassion for what others go through because you’d want others to be understanding if the roles were reversed.  The simplest question, “What might be going on for them?” – can be both helpful and insightful.

Focus on Solving the Problem and Setting Goals

 When we have problems with people at work, we can see them as enemies. It feels like nothing we do will ever be good enough for them. But what if we take the time to talk to them and better understand what they want and need within the workplace? Instead of working against one other, those who typically bump heads can come together and collaborate while sharing their unique perspectives to resolve problems. Doing this will make it easier for you to set goals and cultivate better relationships with other employees as you focus on leadership development.

Limit the Negativity and Do What Works Best for You

 Limiting gossip within the workplace is another sure fire way to prevent and avoid unnecessary conflict. There’s nothing wrong with asking a colleague if another colleague’s behaviour is a bit off because then you know you’re not taking things the wrong way, and perhaps that person is having a bad day. However, dragging another person’s name through the mud is never a good idea. Being negative only contributes to a toxic workplace environment. So, can you vent from time to time?  Absolutely.  But should you use your venting sessions to complain about everything someone does that irritates you?  Definitely not. The key is to find a happy medium where you can express yourself without contributing to toxic workplace culture.

 Workplace conflict can negatively impact everyone involved, creating an unhealthy, mentally draining environment that most prefer to avoid. However, taking the right approach makes it easier to handle situations as they arise and work better with those around you despite any differences.

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