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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Banking and Finance - 5 ways to deal with difficult people at work

Banking and Finance

5 ways to deal with difficult people at work

Darren Fleming

Every workplace has them. Some more than others. Often we work with them, sometimes for them. Idiots can be anywhere and everywhere. They are not restricted to a sector of the work force, parts of society or particular suburbs. To para-phrase child actor Haley Joel Osment from the 1999 movie The Sixth Sense: I see idiots everywhere. They walk around like you and me. They just don’t know they are idiots.

One of the unfortunate things about idiots is that there is no one definition of what one is. While your colleague might think the new manager is an idiot for making a particular decision, you see it differently. You see someone who isn’t yet aware of the knock on effects their decisions have. You feel a little sorry for them and hope they soon realise the impact they have had.

If two people can see the same situation and come to very different conclusions, it’s fair to say that the situation is not the cause of the label. If it was, everyone would apply the same label. Rather the label is generated by your reaction to the event and the assessment you make of it.

So it’s more accurate to say that it’s your reaction rather than what they did that causes them to be labeled as an idiot. You and your colleague can see the same impact of the decision, yet they see an idiot while you see someone struggling in a new position. It’s a very different opinion from the same event. And here in lies the key to having less idiots at work. If you want less idiots at work, simply ask yourself the question, ‘What is it in me that is triggered by the idiot’.

You Trigger Me!

The answer to this question can’t be ‘They did X’. That’s what they did, not what is triggered in you. It’s an answer to a different question and won’t remove any idiots. What is it you’re experiencing in your body that has been triggered and caused you to label them as an idiot?

It’s a much more nebulous answer to arrive at, but it might be something like ‘It frustrates me when people do X’. That’s a reasonable answer. But that reaction of frustration is completely and entirely within you. You’re responsible for what happens in your body. Labelling someone as an idiot because of something that happened in your body is probably a bit unfair. How are they supposed to know what will or won’t trigger you?

Removing the Idiots

If an idiot does something and you don’t have a reaction to it, are they still an idiot? As flippant as this sounds, it is the key to removing all the idiots from your work. Just don’t react. If it’s your reaction that causes you to see someone as an idiot, not reacting means you won’t see them that way. This sounds so simple that it couldn’t work. But it is the only way to eradicate idiots.

When someone does something that annoys you, experience the sensation in your body without reacting to it. Feel it, experience it and let it pass when it is ready to. Just don’t react. It will pass – nothing lasts forever. You can still take action on what they have done, but do it without reacting. When you don’t react you’re less likely to make rushed decisions and you won’t have to deal with the mess that usually follows.

Not reacting does not mean suppressing. Suppressing is pushing the sensations down so you don’t have to feel it. Bottling up what we feel will never end well. Feel the sensation in your body and experience it for what it is. That’s all you have to do

When we don’t react we don’t label people unfairly, we have the ability to connect to them in their world and we have less idiots that we have to deal with. That’s got to be win for all.

5 Steps For Dealing with Idiots:

  1. Realise that idiots are sent to trigger us. They give us valuable opportunities to deprogram our automatic reactions.
  2. Identify. We experience that trigger as a sensation in our body.  We only label someone as an idiot when they trigger a specific sensation in us. The triggers and sensations are different for each person.
  3. Reaction. It is our reaction to the sensation that causes us to label them as an idiot.
  4. Experience. In place of reacting, just experience the sensation. Just be with the sensation and experience it for what it is. The sensation will pass. 
  5. Deactivate – When the sensation is experienced the trigger is deactivated and it loses its power over us. When this happens we won’t be triggered by them and we won’t see them as an idiot. Then we will have fewer idiots to deal with.

Written by Darren Fleming.
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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Banking and Finance - 5 ways to deal with difficult people at work

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Darren Fleming
Darren Fleming is an in-demand speaker, trainer and mentor to senior leaders wanting to master their mindset. His latest book Mindset Mastery: Do Less. Achieve More is due out in April 2023. Darren works with major Australian and international companies to unblock their performance. He is passionate about helping people get out of their own way so they can stop struggling and achieve more with less effort.


Darren Fleming is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website CLICK HERE.