Coming to Terms with Your Industrial Strength Difficult Person


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Call it bad vibes, gut reaction, instant dislike, or hitting a major hot button. Truth be told, there are just some people we don't like, don't want to associate with, and want to avoid. But, when they're our co-workers, we can't avoid them. We may have to work closely with them, day after day, until we successfully complete the job.

If you are stuck with your difficult person, it may be time to let go, to change how you feel about and deal with your own industrial strength difficult person.

Letting go doesn't mean excusing bad behavior or denying how we feel. It means detaching ourselves from feeling bad. Letting go means not letting the other person determine how you think and feel. You can detach by taking charge of how you see them and yourself.

Ask yourself:

1. Who else has the same issues and problems with your difficult person that you do? How is this third party like you? Not like you?

2. Who doesn't seem to have problems with your difficult person? Again, ask yourself how they are like or not like you. What do they do, how do they relate to your difficult person that doesn't seem to trigger the same feelings or problems you have?

3. Who does your difficult person remind you of? They may well have a different name, a different face, but their behavior, attitude or style is familiar to you. Why? They remind you of someone else, someone you don't like.

Take a mental leap to the next level. Start thinking of the larger issues. Is this a question of values, personality or attitude that stands between you and your difficult person? Or, are your differences in professional focus or training? Does age or culture play a role? Or, do you still have unfinished business with your difficult person, and are letting it get in the way?

By identifying who else does or doesn't have trouble with your difficult person, you can see other ways other people have of dealing with the person you find so troublesome. You may well find an alternative you can use for yourself. Or you may decide not to do what you see others do.

The objective of this exercise is not to change the other person, or minimize their difficult behavior. Or even to become buddies.

The objective is to see the other person and yourself more clearly, and detach yourself from upsetting feelings.

By understanding the dynamics of how a difficult person “makes" you feel, you can choose to take charge of your feelings.

Copyright © 2005 Pat Wiklund. All rights in all media reserved. This article may be reprinted so long as it is kept intact with the copyright and by-line.

Pat Wiklund is known as the One-Person Business turnaround specialist. She works with professional services business ownership they can make more money and get more personal satisfaction from their work. Start taking charge of your business and your life with her TakingCharge mini ecourse from her latest book, Taking Charge When You’re Not in Control by sending a blank email to


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