The same problems that plagued people in ancient times are still with us today. People are still rude, selfish, insensitive, and difficult -- some of the time. Unfortunately, you may be forced to work with these difficult people. That's life.
In fact, a University of North Carolina survey found that 78% of the respondents think rudeness and incivility have increased in the last decade. And every one of the respondents could cite examples of co-workers who had caused workplace conflicts or treated them in a disrespectful manner.
To make matters worse, difficult people definitely hurt productivity. As the UNC research team reported in their results to Industry Week and The Dallas Morning News, 53% of the respondents said they lost work time worrying about a past or future confrontation with a co-worker. 37% said a hostile confrontation caused them to reduce their commitment to the organization. 28% said they lost work time because they avoided the confrontational co-worker. And 22% said they put less effort into their work because of confrontations.
Even though you may not like certain people or situations they put you in, there are some things you can do to improve working conditions and and increase productivity:
Eventually, he learned that when he spoke he gave an aura of being easily flustered. So he started to work on his self-confidence and started to practice relaxation exercises. He became less and less flustered. As he changed, his co-workers also changed. They became more positive and less difficult.
If people around you are difficult, take a moment to take an honest look at yourself. Is it possible that you're doing something that contributes to their difficult behavior? Don't automatically assume that you're totally innocent, and they're totally to blame for your workplace conflicts.
It's the same with people. Their mountains, their blockades, their annoying behaviors typically come from some pain they're suffering. It's so easy to react to the behavior of difficult people in a negative manner. After all, it's difficult. It does hurt. You can judge people's behaviors. But you must be very careful about judging the motives behind their behaviors.
During one of my motivational speeches, one of the audience members, a Vice President of a Fortune 500 company, said, "Whenever a difficult person crosses my path, I ask myself what I can learn from this person." He continued, "Perhaps that person was put in my path to teach me patience or give me a chance to practice my skills in assertive communication."
When you focus on the lessons you're learning, instead of the irritation you're experiencing, you'll be in much better shape to respond to the workplace conflict in a positive manner.
Just don't get pulled into a hissing contest. You can go back and forth forever as to who did what, who's to blame, and who started it. Does it really matter? Always remember, worrying about what's right is always more important than worrying about who's right.
In other words, take extra caution before you offer advice. It's like the time Billie Burke, a famous actress from a bygone era, was on a transatlantic cruise. She noticed a gentleman suffering from a bad cold.
"I'll tell you just what to do for it," said Billie. "Go back to your stateroom; drink lots of orange juice, and take two aspirin. Cover yourself with all the blankets you can find. Sweat the cold out. I know what I'm talking about. I'm Billie Burke from Hollywood."
The man smiled warmly and introduced himself in return. "Thanks," he said. "I'm Dr. Mayo of the Mayo Clinic."