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Joey Klein, Inner Matrix Systems CEO, weighs in on how to manage working with difficult employees in the office

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There are lots of spaces in life where we may need to collaborate with difficult or annoying people. Work, school, places we volunteer or spend time are all examples. You can’t control how others act, but there are ways to avoid being triggered by the actions of others. In this article, Joey Klein, Inner Matrix Systems CEO, explores different internal strategies for coping with irritating or annoying coworkers.

Think before you act

The easiest thing to do when working with a difficult person is to respond from a fear-based state – to complain about them, blame them for your lack of success, and compile a mental list of all their transgressions.

Instead of collecting a list of a person’s annoying habits, consider what they do contribute. Everyone, regardless of how difficult they may seem, has good qualities. Developing a successful, collaborative relationship with a difficult person leads to creating a mutually beneficial result, which is always a plus in professional relationships.

Think before you speak

We’ve all fired off an angry email just to realize that we contributed to the problem, and our angry words may have felt good in the moment but did nothing to bring us closer to the result or outcome we wanted.

Reminding yourself that the result or outcome you’re after is the important thing – not the person who is rude or inconsiderate or annoying – will help you shift your feelings about the person. Instead of focusing on why a person isn’t great or how they are inhibiting you from achieving something, focus on how you can show up in a place of collaboration to work towards getting what you need to achieve the desired result.

Make the outcome more important

Shifting your thoughts and what you think about someone to instead coming from a place of compassion for the person and commitment to getting the desired outcome wastes much less time than complaining and naming all the reasons you can’t do something.

Tips on how to work with annoying or difficult people:

  • Take some time – Internal training or even just relaxing for a few minutes several times each day can work wonders for resisting triggers.
  • Avoid “you” statements – Your internal dialogs about your difficult coworker should always be “I” statements. Even just thinking that “you” make me angry, or sad, or irritated saps your power. It indicates that you have no control over your feelings. Do not give that power to someone else. Instead, tell yourself, “I get upset when John fails to keep our common workspace organized.” You still won’t like it, but you will be in control.
  • Learn relaxation techniques – Breathing exercises, visualization of a peaceful environment, and relaxing music can contribute to your ability to stay calm and in control. Whenever you become grumpy or feel anxiety mounting, take control with your learned relaxation techniques. It’s like armor against irritation.

Look for alignment

In almost all situations, even when a person seems impossible to work with, there is a way to find some alignment to work to achieve an outcome. Even while correcting or reprimanding a problematic employee, it is important to shine a light on anything that was done correctly.

For example, suppose Hank, a new employee, disobeyed traffic laws and got into an accident while driving his company truck. In that case, his manager can diffuse the situation by remembering to thank Hank for promptly reporting the accident. While it may seem justified, the opposite tactic may cost the company what could become their best employee in the future.

About Inner Matrix Systems

Inner Matrix Systems, based in Denver, is a personal mastery training system for high achievers. For more than twenty years, IMS has delivered a proprietary methodology that rewires, trains, and aligns the nervous system, emotions, and thought strategies to create real-life results. CEO, Joey Klein, and IMS have worked with more than 80,000 individuals from around the world through both live and online training programs, as well as one-on-one coaching. Clients have included: Boeing, IBM, Dell, Google, Panda Express, Coca Cola and The World Health Organization. Joey is the author of The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results (June 2021).

Story by Deny Smith

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