How to Navigate a Difficult Workplace Relationship

One of the most common issues we see organisational leaders face throughout their careers is a relationship breakdown with someone in the workplace.

Think back to a time when you have sensed a conflict with someone more senior to you, or a disconnect with a divisional colleague or team member.

If not handled appropriately even small areas of disconnect can have a snowball effect on both your own personal wellbeing in the workplace and the business at large.

Often, when clients ask me about how to move past a difficult relationship the tendency is to focus on how to ‘fix’ the other person. As human beings, we have a natural tendency to blame others as opposed to taking personal ownership.

However in these situations, if you want to create a change, that change needs to start with YOU.

How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

The world you experience is a reflection of you and the way people react and treat you is generally a direct reflection of the way you behave and treat others.

Ultimately, if you want someone else to change their behavior, the critical thing to do first is to look at what you’re doing and look at how you can do that differently using the following framework:

1. Firstly you should be thinking about how you are acting

What’s your tone of voice, what’s the context, what sort of language are you using?

2. From there you start to look at what you could do differently

How could you change some words or some of the things that you’re saying to evoke a different reaction from the person you are experiencing a challenge with.

Doing this will generally help you build a better sense of connection and trust – which is the foundation of any strong relationship.

I dive deeper into this topic and share a number of examples of this advice in action in the video below.

If you’re currently trying to navigate a difficult relationship with someone in your workplace make sure you watch the video and implement some of the core learnings.

You might be surprised at how quickly you can turn things around.  


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