Everybody has somebody in their family or someone at work that’s difficult to be around. I’m talking about those who are bullies, gossips, drama queens/kings, passive-aggressive, or the know-it-all person. They are the ones who talk over you in meetings, hijack your vacation story to one-up you, or belittle you in front of co-workers. It’s time to stop them and here’s how you do it:
Know your rights
You have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. If someone consistently interrupts you, gets aggressive in their words or body language, or dismisses your opinions, your rights are being violated. You have the right to stand up for your rights—at home and at work.
Stop being “nice”
Difficult people count on you being “nice.” They love it when you’re patient to a fault or worry about offending them. They’re not the least worried about offending you or causing you sleepless nights. You have to stop being “nice” and start being firm.
Know what to say
If you know what to say to overbearing people you’re more likely to protect yourself from them. Do a google search on dealing with difficult people or get a book on the subject. Write down the things you might say to set boundaries—the ones you think you might actually use. Read that list every day for a month. Prepare for the next time and you’ll be ready.
- For aggressive (or clueless) people: Please don’t interrupt me. Now, as I was saying…
- For passive-aggressive people: You’ve told me before you’re not trying to make me look bad. I don’t believe you. Stop it or I’ll take appropriate action.
- For bullies: What you’re saying and how you’re saying it is bullying. Change it or I’ll take steps to bring this out into the open.
- For gossips: I have to focus on my work now so we’ll have to stop here. (for drama queens/kings)
Show them you mean it
What you say is important but what you do is more important. There are times when you just have to walk away. You can just walk away without saying anything or you can tell them, “I’m not willing to have this kind of conversation, I’m leaving now.” There are also times to go over their head to the appropriate senior leader or HR person and document unacceptable behavior at work. If it’s family, just end the conversation or their behavior by giving them a chance to change their ways—and if they don’t, just get away from them.