Managing difficult people(14 Posts)
N/c for this as regular poster. Apologies for length!
Background: Love my job, been there a number of years, line manage one person (in her 20's). Just the 2 of us in our department and office.
She is a fairly negative sort of person, I am generally very positive. She is very good at what she does, as am I. Our skills complement each other's really well.
However, recently her negativity has become downright rudeness.
We had a meeting to discuss these issues and I asked if everything was ok, she said it was but she had a lot of work to do. I then removed a chunk of it, and her behaviour was addressed. However, it has not improved.
I cannot believe she thinks it's appropriate to speak to anyone like she does (I get the worst of it as I'm sat closest to her). My manager says she's young and we need to guide her in how to behave. I am at the point of feeling like I am dealing with a sulky teenager (she isn't but she acts like one).
God, it sounds so ridiculous written down.
Sometimes it can be difficult for people to hear how they come across to others so perhaps she genuinely doesn't realise that her tone is as negative as it is.
Could you note down some of her responses verbatim in frequently occurring situations and then run (or, better, have a suitable trainer/coach) run a reverse role play with her?
She sounds badly brought up and lacking in self-awareness. It is absolutely fine to rebuke her for common-or-garden grumpiness (or whatever)
and to tell her she needs to speak to you courteously.
Of it's a recent thing maybe there is something else going on?
I have anxiety which sometimes could be seen as rude or sulky behaviour, actually it's me not coping with a situation and withdrawing into myself as a coping mechanism as I can't physically remove myself. It causes lots of issues in work as I'm seen as "difficult" which feeds the anxiety it's a vicious circle. My initial trigger was the way my boss treats me -micro managing- it's spiralled from there.
Perhaps a look at DeBono's 6 thinking hats for a framework of how to approach this.
It sounds like your colleague might be a black hat. It's actually reasonably easy to flip this behaviour over into yellow hat thinking with a bit of discussion and a nudge.
A black hat is devil's advocate and sees all the problems with a project often negatively.
The yellow hat sees the same problems but addresses them positively from a "great idea, how can we improve it/implement effectively" stand point.
I've used it with a young team member and it worked really well.
depression/anxiety can easily manifest as irritability, anger, many other things that people who haven't suffered can interpret as a simple attitude problem, immaturity, selfishness etc.
Are you my line manager??
I'm seen as quite negative but it's my way of coping with often crippling anxiety. Plus the line manager above mine is aggressive and rude to me but not her.
Maybe ask if she's alright and maybe at work would be more appropriate to not vent certain feelings towards you? Or point her to counselling if your business offers it.
She is an anxious person, so I will take that on board. When she asks for written clarification of what I have said it makes me think she doesn't trust me but maybe she just needs everything in writing.
It's difficult to explain shades of grey to her (ie 'this happens but we would not do that if x or y').
I definitely do not micro manage her but am finding myself take on more of her work as when she is asked to change something the reaction is so negative.
She never used to be like this which is what makes it all the more difficult to understand.
And communication is at an all time low as there is no talking, just emailing!
It's not just to me but I definitely get the worst of it as I'm with her the most.
I feel sorry for her. symptoms of anxiety and depression fluctuate and it's very difficult to deal with these people (us, hi) because we are very,
very sensitive. it would be easy (and understandable) to look at it from a performance/disciplinary point of view but the more enlightened could try to approach the root of the problem rather than attacking its symptoms.
is your company the kind of company that looks after its staff e.g providing counselling?
God, I don't feel sorry for her. Difficult people in work are a pain in the hoop. You're her manager.....so manage her. Sit down with her and tell her what you've told us. Give her examples. Find out whether there's a trust issue and if anything has happened to cause this. Put it right, if it's something you've done or can influence (Coveys Speed of Trust is great on this subject). Attitude is just as important as delivery, so don't let it go unchecked. Her age had got nothing to do with it.
The written thing after you have told her verbally could be to do with how she processes information, especially if her job is technical and slight miscommunication could make a big difference to outcome. I used to be a statistician and I asked everyone to put requests in an email unless they were either extremely simple or they were sitting beside me and I was doing their requests as they were made. I just found that verbal only usually meant that it would be not quite right.
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