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Managing difficult personalities in the workplace

For International Women’s Day this year, YWCA Australia ran a series of webinar panel discussions – ‘Tina Talks’, focussing upon the professional development of women. Our CEO, Virginia Herlihy was delighted to take part, tackling something that EVERYONE will have encountered at some point in their working life – managing difficult personalities in the workplace.  You can watch the whole video, but here are a few key take-outs from Virginia.

“Who hasn’t had to deal with managing difficult situations at work? I’m guessing no one, which is why taking part in a panel discussion largely focused on HOW to deal with difficult circumstances and people alongside Rebecca Thomas and Zoe Routh, hosted by Marlee Silva, felt so relevant. Often difficult is simply another word for different, meaning different from you! Below are a few of the key take-outs”

Managing difficult work situations or people:

Be clear about the culture – creating clear boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable within a team and wider organisation, helps people raise concerns when they see behaviour that doesn’t fit the culture. This helps to remove opinion from difficult discussions as the acceptable norms are clear for all.

Take personal responsibility – asking yourself what if anything can I do to get a better outcome here, rather than wishing someone else would change their behaviour, (which you don’t control) helps you take ownership and responsibility for things that you do have control over.

Prepare for difficult discussions – using a framework and preparing and pre-scripting your language if you need to will help you deliver messages more confidently. This will show in your body language and the way you talk, increasing the likelihood of your message being delivered clearly.

Ask for opinions –  asking people how people think they are getting on often means people will get some of the way there themselves to solving a difficult situation. Most people don’t seek out conflict and are looking for a solution – give them some responsibility for finding the solution.

Use factual language – stopping emotive language can help diffuse a situation. Eliminate universals such as ‘you always do this‘ or “I feel that” which can be inflammatory and easy to dispute and focus on the clear facts and examples to help clearly demonstrate the problematic behaviour or situation.

Take a look at the whole video below for a more comprehensive overview of how to manage difficult situations at work.

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