More Than Just a Face (or Title)

Looking beyond the surface to best relate to others in the workplace

Posted Dec 06, 2016

Amy Cooper Hakim
Source: Amy Cooper Hakim

Welcome to Working with Difficult People! This blog provides direct suggestions and strategies to handle problem bosses, colleagues, and subordinates.

You may be wondering how this photo of a grandmother and granddaughter relates to the topic of workplace conflict. Well, I am the younger person in that photo (circa 1983), alongside my grandmother and mentor, Muriel Solomon. This inaugural blog post is dedicated to her.

Mimi's Sage Advice

Mimi (as we affectionately called Muriel) was one of my favorite people. We had a close and special connection. She played such an integral role in my life and taught me many important life lessons. She even introduced me to the field of industrial-organizational psychology. On a personal level, Mimi encouraged me to think about my future actions before reacting. She taught me to look beyond one's superficial persona, and to use patience, logic, and tact when responding to difficult people. And, she reminded me that there are always multiple ways to view the same situation.

Look Beyond the Face or Title

The most important advice that Mimi gave me was to realize the worth of various people in various places in our lives. You can have different friends for different purposes, she would tell me. Some might be friends you confide in, while others might be friends in a book club. Through Mimi’s gentle yet straightforward guidance, I learned to appreciate people for who they are. Instead of focusing on what is wrong with a person or relationship, recognize what is right. Don't be intimidated by difference; rather embrace it. Always focus energy on the many positives in a relationship instead of harping on the negatives.

This blog expands these exact principles into the work environment. Don't be overwhelmed by a person's persona or title. Regardless of one's position or tenure in the office, each of us deserves to be treated with respect, dignity, and equity. When we take emotion out of difficult workplace situations, we effectively evaluate what we need to do in order to get what we want and need from a particular relationship.

Different Goals for Different Relationships

We have different goals when dealing with people we work for, people we work with, and people who work for us. We have to tailor our tactics to the outcome we want, based on the person with whom we are interacting.

No matter how bright you are, being angry, hurt, or disappointed blocks your good judgment. The purpose of this blog is to suggest logical action instead of emotional reaction. Please subscribe here and check back regularly to learn exact phrases and proven strategies to handle difficult people in the workplace.

Extensions beyond the Workplace

Of course, even though the focus of this blog is on communicating at work, people don’t shed their vexing ways when they leave the office. So, don’t be surprised if you also apply these tactics when they fit an obnoxious neighbor or a phony friend or a manipulative relative.

Want to learn more about handling difficult people in today’s workplace? Visit me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn. Read the book that I co-authored with Muriel, Working with Difficult People.

Copyright© 2016 Amy Cooper Hakim