Once upon a time, I was on a Twitter chat (remember those?) and the moderator made the comment, “When managing difficult people, assume you are also difficult. Helps a lot to be humble.” And because I have a pathological need to weigh in on everything, I responded with: We are all difficult to someone.
No matter how charming we think we are, or how many people give us positive reinforcement, to someone out there we are an archenemy. We are the Lex Luthor to their Superman. We are the Emperor to their Luke Skywalker. We are the Lucille Bluth to their Michael.
In a world where building trusting relationships is vital to mutual success, being difficult is a liability. The frustrating thing is that most of us don’t start our day with the goal of being difficult. A lot of us try to be kind (or at least, not actively toxic), and we attempt to get through our day productively and with limited drama.
And yet, there are people out there who hate us.
“But,” you might say, “how can you possibly know that? Everyone likes me.” If you’ve ever had to say “no” to someone at work, you were being difficult to them. Maybe it’s just occasional and they probably got over it (we hope), but right then and there you didn’t let them do something they wanted to do. In fact, you probably had a REALLY good reason to not let them do it. But still – you were being difficult.
Don’t take it personally – we’re all difficult people. The best way to deal with it is to remember that the other person is coming from a different perspective. A few tips:
- Solicit feedback. It could be your approach, or even the words you’re using. It could be you inadvertently triggered them based on past or current trauma. Get data, don’t dismiss it, and respond appropriately,
- Explain your thinking. This can go a long way to changing your perceived difficulty. On the plus side – if you can’t explain your thinking, there is a good chance that you ARE just being difficult.
- Seek to understand. Don’t dismiss something outright. Maybe their end goal is a good one, but their proposed approach is bad. By knowing their why, you can help them find a better path.
- Don’t try so hard to be liked. If the thought of being considered “difficult” distresses you, figure out why. If you’re certain your actions were done with the best outcome in mind, you’re going to be alright. It’s okay not to be everyone’s best friend.
“Difficult” is not a title. It’s not a trophy. It’s an adjective – and a common one, at that. So the next time you’re tempted to call someone difficult, just remember – you are, too…sometimes. Focus on results and intent to help everyone move past it. The project – and the working relationship – will be better for it.
With warm regards,
— Mary Faulkner
Principal/Recovering Difficult Person, IA
Formula for Transformation
The RFP is, at best, an imperfect engine for identifying and driving sustainable relationships between external service providers and employers. So how do you follow procurement standards while evaluating HR service providers in a deeply authentic and collaborative way?
Having supported hundreds of selections across every HR domain, vertical market, and geography, team members from IA will present an alternative approach to the tired old selection process – Fixing the RFP: How to Find Your Best-Fit Provider on Wednesday, October 12. Register today (and tell your friends, too)!
Where You Can Find Us
Can you believe it’s August? Next thing you know, we’ll be wearing flannel and it will be pumpkin spice everything. In the meantime, we are excited to be part of the following events:
- September 13-16, 2022: Once again, IA is pleased to support the HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas. IA-ers are participating in Women in HR Tech, the pre-conference sessions, and a mega-session during the main event! We hope to see you there!
- November 7-9, 2022: Mary Faulkner will be moderating a panel at ERE’s in-person Fall Recruiting Conference. More details to come.
- November 17, 2022: IA is pleased to support the upcoming Scalefest ONE – the virtual transformation event that follows the sun. Planning is still underway with more details coming soon!
On Our Radar
There is no end to interesting content out there, especially when it comes to how business and people intersect. Which means we had a lot to choose from as we identified articles we thought would be of interest:
- Any organization that is struggling to attract and retain employees would be wise to review their approach to career development. Harvard Business Review’s take is to abandon career ladders and embrace the idea of squiggly careers.
- With our upcoming participation in the Women in HR Technology Summit, this recent article about the work-from-home trap for women caught our eye. Does more flexibility mean less support? It’s an interesting question.
- The more we learn about burnout, the more we realize we should stop and smell the roses. The hustle culture might look cool on social media, but it’s actually having physical effects on your brain.
- And finally, if you’re in the market for a career change, why not indulge your sweet tooth? We hear Canada is a lovely place to live.
As trusted advisors to senior leaders, IA supports strategic initiatives that transform the way organizations work.
Our seasoned team of professionals apply a revolutionary eye, deep domain experience, and flexible tools to accelerate the achievement of even the most ambitious goals. With a cross-functional, strategic perspective, we thrive on big, messy problems. Whether large or small, public or private, domestic or international, it’s our job to support leaders and their teams in achieving outcomes that are truly unique to their culture and objectives.
Every organization has a catalyst for change – learn more at ia-hr.com.