How to deal with difficult people at work? How to deal with anger?

Confucius said:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Confucius was right  but remember that work won’t love you back and neither the circumstances and people you will probably meet. Embrace work as being his partner, not his slave and be prepared to see people as they really are.

First day at work

Let’s go through and see what happens.

As soon as you’ll walk in the office you’ll be amazed. Polite people smiling and willing to give you all the information you need, coffee and lunch breaks, sunshine and roses.

After all, you will have no real responsibilities on the first day.

The first concern you’ll probably have is to make the right impression while meeting coworkers and managers.

But stop. This is all fake.

Come back again and try to see the things as they really are.

Dealing with difficult people at work

As you’ll start to dig deeper into corporate world you’ll find a lot of skeletons.

The reality is much more different from the stories you’re probably reading in those nice business books. For each problem you may encounter, the best solution is to know how to manage the people around you and this may be the hardest thing to learn.

It doesn’t matter how hard you have to work to solve a problem, surrounded with difficult people the problem itself will be harder to manage.

Your life will be difficult but this is just a side effect of reality. You’ll have to figure out by yourself which is the best strategy to use.

Sow how should I behave?

Here are a few tips for your first day at a new job:

  • listen and watch who is doing what and take notes on everything is being said (make a log journal)
  • don’t try to impress, try to be impressed and make sure you avoid “the I-language” and talk more about facts
  • try to understand people’s behavior and their personality type

But how do I do that?
By reading, recognizing and understanding the patterns of personality types. This will help you make your life more easy at work. You will be prepared to meet challenges you may not expect and behaviors you may take for granted or not paying much attention.

Locus of control
You may find one of the following two different groups of people at work:

  1. With an internal locus of control. They believe that each event of their life is produced by their behavior and actions. They are in charge of their own life.
  2. With an external locus of control. They believe that events are produced by some external factors which are beyond their control like chance , luck or fate.

Each of the following character types you will encounter in your work environment have their roots from the two categories I’ve mentioned above. You will also encounter people with mixed character types. What’s the most important is to know how to cope with them and make sure you are able to detach yourself emotionally when some of them will try to ruin your life.

Working with difficult people (character types and their behavior )

  • The bored guy. You will see him bored any time you ask him questions which he is unable to respond. He wants to be undisturbed.
  • I know everything. The individual who thinks he knows everything, always looking for credit but when making mistakes will always blame the world.
  • The best friend of bureaucracy. Will keep your head always filled with a lot of procedures. He thinks that work must be done by following the procedure and everything else must be divided into tasks with clear directives received from superiors.
  • The envious guy. Hard to detect because he will always play the double card game with you. Befriending you to gain more information while badmouthing your achievements with managers and taking credits.
  • The ignorant. He is always right, even when he is wrong. No matter how many arguments you’ll try to use against him you’ll fail.
  • The gossip guy. He talks about mistakes others did. He may befriend you just to gain more information needed for a coffee talk. His best practice is to laugh loudly at someone else’s mistake.
  • The morons. They are annoyed, always in a constant search of pleasure. They will play games with you, trying to sabotage your work and take credit themselves. Sometimes they are best friends with the gossip guy.
  • Give me a raise. The purpose of this guy is to always ask for a raise. He will always complain about everything. You will never find him content. Give him a raise and after a short time, he will start complaining again. Nothing seems to be fair.
  • The conservative. Things must always be done exactly how they were been done in the past, nothing must change. Novelty equals enemy.
  • Pension guy. Always preoccupied with how much pension he will get after finishing this work. You will find him always making the math in a spreadsheet.
  • The influential. Has the ability to influence individual people. Uses charisma. It tends to be direct and decisive with a high self-confidence. It is a risk taker and a problem solver.
  • The perfectionist. Spends too much time to figuring out what is the best approach to get things done. Too attentive to details and always lost in his perfection cycle. Never able to finish his tasks in time.
  • The manager. This person will always be the average of the people he spends the most time with. Often lacks visibility on the projects and resources. His decisions will be more likely influenced or affected by wrong people.
  • The skilled. They fall into two categories: people who claim “ten years of experience” but actually have one year of experience repeated nine times and people who actually have built ten years of multidisciplinary expertise.
  • The nerd. A very passionate and skilled person with a rugged style. Traditional clothing . Internet evangelist. Knows how technical things work. Has a high IQ but lacks emotional intelligence.
  • The creative guy. Has no respect for the rules. Likes to mess up with new things. Adapting to any situation is not a problem for him. He will do whatever is at hand to reach his goals. Has no borders on the mind.
  • Good luck guy. He will always attend the best opportunity to come. Will always blame others for their achievement. You will find him always saying: “If only I had the opportunity…”, “If only luck was on my side…”. He wants everything that others have without paying the price.
  • The oppressor. “You must do what I say”. These people will try to convince you they hold the keys to the kingdom and you should obey to their rules. Sometimes they will express an indirect hostility such as through a deliberate failure where you may get charged for the fault. They will also try to destroy your personality using hit-and-run tactics.
  • The emotional. He understands people and all their needs. He uses his emotional intelligence to manage others behavior and relationships. Sometimes he forgets that he is doing too much for others and less for himself.
  • The stoic. He understands that has little or no power over the corporate administration. He knows that changes may occur only when rulers are philosophers or philosophers became rulers.

How to deal with anger at work?

When anger rises, think of the consequences — Confucius.

Each work environment can turn into a battleground fairly quickly when people do not understand one another. To manage anger and keep emotions in check, you’ll need to realize that not everyone is the same as you.

Everyone is different and while you may not agree with their methods, they have the right to go about their tasks in whatever manner they see fit.

Why should you control your anger before it controls you?

Because anger can:
• consume your mental energy
• lead to depression
• affect your relationship
• cause mental disorders
• lead to heart attacks
• kill you

I’ve been angry most of my life for one reason or another. It took me a lot to accept that everyone is different whenever I may agree or not, especially when I was working in a cross-cultural environment. After taking too much responsibility I couldn’t stand out, it was overwhelming.

I still remember those days when I had a racing heart, being so afraid I couldn’t catch my breath and feeling like I was having a heart attack. But this was just anger transformed in anxiety with a daily dose of panic attacks.

I was experiencing high levels of fatigue every day, my immune system was weakening. Anger caused anxiety, which now was causing a shutdown in my body. I always tried to hold it in until one day I’ve exploded.

After spending several years in a grueling cross-cultural corporate environment, with lots of trial and error I’ve learned the lesson. Anger and stress can derail a promising career before it even begins and it can even kill you before you came to realize.

Anger management strategies

You will never be able to change your working environment but you can adapt and change yourself. Dealing with difficult people can be hard only if you are not recognizing and understanding the patterns of their personality types.

People will always say something wrong just to make you feel angry, with no reason. Hearing the wrong phrase and not being able to catch yourself will only make you mad immediately.
I posted a  sticky note on my desk from Robert Greene the author of 33 Strategies of war so it can remind me every day how pointless is to get angry.

Here’s why you should be emotionally  aware:

When working alongside fools, do not fight them. Instead, think of them the way you think of children, or pets, not important enough to affect your mental balance. Detach yourself emotionally. And while you’re inwardly laughing at their foolishness, indulge them in one of their more harmless ideas.

I know, It feels better to be angry than it does to be in pain, but anger will bring you more pain in a long run so let’s take a closer look at some more principles to manage your anger and emotions at the workplace.

Expand Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is useful in any field of life and the corporate environment is no exception. Those who are emotionally intelligent will not only recognize their own emotions but can also recognize the emotions of others. They will use the information that they’ve collected to guide their behavior and treat their fellow employees correctly.

Daniel Goleman has written one of the best books on the importance of emotional intelligence in a corporate environment, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ which I strongly recommend.

Understand Cross-Cultural Adaptation
The average office will contain a number of people, from a variety of different cultural backgrounds. Cross culture adaptation should be taking place in any healthy office environment, so potential misunderstandings do not lead to increased stress or cause emotional outbursts.

What seems rude in one culture may not seem rude to another, so be sure to discuss each other’s mindsets. If you encounter different people, you have to be the first to understand cultural differences. Don’t expect your co-workers to understand you, be the first to expand your worldview and see people as they are.

Getting To The Root of Conflicts
Conflicts are very rarely about the thing that people say that they are about. After understanding this simple principle you’ll be able to manage and keep stress at a minimum. Always try to get to the root cause of the disagreement. There is often a long festering issue hiding well below the surface. Never get pressed to settle for quick fixes, avoid laziness to stop you find the root cause.

Learn Self Awareness and Self Mastery
Self-awareness and self-mastery are crucial to managing anger and emotions in the workplace. The more we know about our own emotions, the easier it is to control them.

Self-aware people can recognize the buildup of anger before it boils over and keep themselves on an even keel far more easily than those who are not. You should have complete power over your mind not over external events.

I found Mediations by Marcus Aurelius to be the right book with a deep focus on self-control and anger management.

Understand The Benefits Of Exercise And Meditation
There are numerous helpful ways to blow off steam, including meditation and physical exercise. While some benefit from meditation and clearing their mind of all work related issues, there are others who function best by letting off steam in a different way.

Using a guided meditation app such as calm for only 10 minutes a day can make a huge improvement in reducing stress. A long run or just a 30 minutes daily exercise plan are wonderful for releasing pent up stress.

Incorporate Stoic Principles Into Your Daily Life
Those who can remain stoic in the face of chaos tend to practice the correct principles. Stoicism begins with the acknowledgment that all emotions are derived from within and builds from there.

Stoic challenge themselves, maintain full emotional honesty and are able to remain present in the moment, which are highly useful skills for managing anger in a corporate environment. Here I created a refined reading list where you can find some good books on stoicism.

End Notes

What I’ve learned so far is that in a corporate world if you win you will still be a rat killed by stress sooner or latter.

It’s up to you whenever you decide to manage anger before it controls you or just let it go.

I’ll be glad to hear how you cope with stress, difficult people and time pressure at work ? I bet you’ll also have something to say!

Constantin Minov

A Hardcore reader | Thinker | Explorer | Problem solver | Communicator | Analyst | Organizer | Minimalist