Do you have a very difficult boss? An impossible colleague? An annoyingly critical partner? Very demanding and unappreciative teammates? The beautiful wisdom shared in this write-up is all you need.

As we seek to advance our dreams and carry out certain assignments, we will meet with all kinds of people; some you may identify as “sweet”, some you may call “difficult”, and there would be others you would tag as “impossible”. Regardless of the bracket anyone falls into; it is possible to work with them and to have a healthy relationship with them.

We can’t always choose the people we work with. In many cases, while you may have the choice of selecting your subordinates/partners/teammates, you will rarely have the liberty of choosing who your superior(s) should be.

So, it is vital to learn how to work with all kinds of people – the difficult ones, the critical ones and just about any person, so that you can achieve what you desire, even as you also seek to help them achieve what they need.

So, let’s look at a few highly effective ideas and approaches that you need to engage.

1. YOUR PATIENCE WORKS MAGIC. Patience is gold. You need to understand that people grow. People change. People get better. Each one of us is in a transition, whether we admit it or not. Your patience with (difficult) people will see you experience a better version of them, or it will positively change how you view what they do, and this will undoubtedly improve your work relationship.

Patience is a critical virtue that reveals your maturity and wisdom. Never conclude on anyone. Never assume that certain persons will never get better.

People encounter situations and events that changes their perspective on issues and how they work with others. As a rule, always hope for the best as you work with people. Never give up on being a positive influence both on your superiors and subordinates.

Also remember, their reaction towards you may not be about you; it may be about their past experiences or the actions of someone else. Their (difficult) attitude towards you may just be their precautionary measures. Your patience with them will uncover everything. Never stop making excuses for them, and soon, your relationship with them will yield significant gains.

Stay positive when negativity surrounds you. Smile when others refuse to. It’s an easy way to make a difference in the world around you.

2. FIND THEIR SOFT SPOT. Everybody has a soft spot. Every one of us has a sentimental weakness. There is that thing that we have a strong feeling of tenderness for. For every human being, there is something that appeals to our emotions. There are things we are fond of. Never conclude that your difficult superior does not have a soft spot. Study them. Observe them. Initiate things. Should you get it wrong sometimes, at least you would know what won’t work and what they don’t appreciate.

“In all men is evil sleeping; the good man is he who will not awaken it, in himself or other men.” – George Courtline

3. DEAL WITH YOUR SELFISHNESS. Many times, the reason we keep having problems with certain people we work with is because of our selfishness; we want things our way, we want things exactly how and when we want it, forgetting the other person also has feelings and needs, including the need to be heard and respected. When we respectfully consider others in our needs and desires, our relationships with them will improve. Don’t just see anyone as a vehicle to getting what you want, see them as human beings who also have needs that you can attempt to meet as well. When we help others get what they want, we would never have issues getting what we need.

How about deciding to be a blessing to your (difficult) superiors and colleagues? Remember, it is a decision, and it has to be regardless of their actions or inactions. This works wonders too.

Everybody has a hot button. Who is pushing yours? While you probably cannot control that person, you CAN control the way you react to them.

4. DON’T LOSE YOURSELF. You need to have and maintain a healthy self-esteem to work effectively with (difficult) people. Do not allow any person’s negativity become the reality by which you live. Don’t call yourself “trash”, “ineffective” or “liability”, just because that’s how somebody current defines you. Don’t give anyone the power to make you doubt yourself and your abilities.

No matter what anyone says against you, nobody should succeed in either driving you crazy or making you depressed, because sometimes this may be their goal. You cannot control what people do or say, but you can decide how you choose to interpret what they say so that you can maintain healthy self-esteem and positivity, even in the face of malicious behaviour. Keep reminding yourself that you are amazing and you are a blessing to everyone you work with, and never close the door on growth and self-improvement.

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Always set an example. Treat everyone with kindness and respect, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because YOU are. And, do your best to be thankful for rude and difficult people too – they serve as great reminders of how not to be.

5. KNOW WHAT TURNS THEM OFF. While it is important to know what gladdens their heart and to identify what enhances their performance, you also need to know what turns them off. It could be certain things you say, or your approach to specific situations and pressures, and this ALWAYS turns them off, thus making you always have problems with them. Sadly, you haven’t taken time to observe and learn from this. Hence it keeps continuing. Some superiors detest lateness, some hate it when you fail to recognize their authority, some hate it when you try to take the credit for successes without realizing their office or input, some others detest negativity and pessimism, and others hate it when people don’t give feedback or are not accountable. Expectedly, this spills into other areas. You just need to identify what turns-off that superior/colleague you are always having issues with.

Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace. Free yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim.

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6. WATCH YOUR TIMING. Many times the reason we have seemingly never-ending challenges and misunderstandings with certain people is because we fail to understand the timing of things. The truth is, you may not always have been doing what is wrong, but the problem could be that you don’t understand the timing; the right timing when to say certain things, the right timing when to introduce your ideas, the right timing when to make suggestions, the right timing when to offer certain supports and assistance, and the right timing when to make your needs known. If you seek to understand the person, you will gradually know the time that works for them.

No matter how annoying your superior is, they cannot always be angry, all the time. More so, beyond working with you, they have their personal lives and issues. Don’t be selfish in your desires, observe the right timing to introduce things, and don’t insist when you notice things could go south if you continue the line of conversation.

Let the opinions of others inform you, do not let it limit you. Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, hate, drama or negativity stop you from being the best person you can be. If you find yourself always trying to prove your worth to others, you have already forgotten your value.

7. TAKE THINGS ONE STEP AT A TIME. You can’t just become “sweet” and “accepting” to everyone overnight. Take things slowly. Know what is expected of you, commit to it and keep doing it, even when you are not being appreciated or continuously criticized. Just ensure you are learning from the criticism and you are getting better. Our endurance with certain positions, challenges and difficult seasons is what qualifies us for promotions, both in life and with the establishment we work in.

“The difficult people who we encounter can be our greatest teachers.” – Eileen Anglin.

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8. PRAYER ALWAYS WORKS. Great wisdom and divine help is received when we pray. Prayer changes things, prayer changes people, and prayer changes us. Never underestimate the power and the possibilities of prayer. Talk to God about the situation and your frustrations and ask God for his help. When you allow the help of God to prevail over your challenging situations, incredible things begin to take place. Pray about everything. Pray about anything.

Please, never take for granted the wisdom in the word of God as recorded in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I hope you learnt a thing or two from this. Please, don’t fail to drop a comment to let me know how this helped you.

Cheers!

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