Pleasantly Dealing with Unpleasant People
The workplace is a microcosm of society. Everyday we encounter people who are different from us and in the office you'll find people with different working styles, levels of emotional intelligence, communication skills, values, and perspectives.
So it should come as no surprise that, when working in close quarters with others day in and day out, we may find ourselves having to deal with difficult people.
Have you had to deal with an unpleasant coworker?
Whether it's a toxic colleague, difficult team, or horrible boss, finding techniques to help you pleasantly deal with unpleasantries in the office is key to bringing more harmony to your nine-to-five.
To tackle this topic we hosted an interactive chat with Limor Bergman Gross, a mentor and coach who has been leading tech teams for over 15 years. She is the Director of Mentorship at PowerToFly and is passionate about helping women succeed in the tech industry.
"You can be a delicious, ripe peach and there will still be people in the world that hate peaches."
Limor answered questions from the PowerToFly community about how to deal with unpleasant people in the workplace and here are some of her top tips.
Strategies for dealing with toxic people at work
Dealing with toxic people at work can be stressful and exhausting. While you can't change the behavior of others you can find ways to make working with them easier.
- Find an internal ally. An ally is someone in the company that you trust and can turn to to discuss the challenges you face. It's important to find someone who you feel comfortable talking to about the toxicity you are dealing with so it doesn't build up inside. You may find that you are not alone and that others may be having the same issues with terrible people or teams.
- Shift your focus. Pour your energy into what you can control—your work. What we focus on grows, so by shifting your focus away from unpleasant people you may be able to minimize the impact the toxicity has on you. If possible, see if you can get involved on another project or different product to distance yourself from the problem.
- Get a mentor. An external mentor or coach can bring a different perspective and provide sound advice for dealing with difficult people and situations. Often we feel that our challenges are unique and we are alone in our suffering, however, a mentor can show us that we all face similar obstacles in the workplace at some point in time and by tapping into their wealth of experience they can help come up with creative solutions. If you are looking for a mentor check out the PowerToFly's Mentorship Program.
What to do when your boss is the jerk
Almost everyone has had a bad boss at some time, whether they were difficult and challenging or just plain mean. While the situation may make you feel like the only solution is to quit, there are a few techniques you can try to improve your relationship.
- Understand their behavior. While trying to understand your boss' unfavorable antics might sound odd, this is a way to figure out how to control what you can—your own actions. Understanding your boss' motivations, values, and triggers allows you to adapt to their style, which may minimize conflict.
- Who does your boss like? Figure out who gets along with your boss. Why does your boss like them? What are they doing that works? Learn and try to implement a different strategy. This could be a tool that leads to a better working relationship.
- Talk to them. The best way to understand your boss is to talk to them directly about their working style and their expectations. Some people are micromanagers, some like high-level information, some like low-level information, and some are data-driven. There are so many different kinds of people and by knowing what your boss needs to succeed, you can better support them and often they will appreciate you for that. Talking to them is also an opportunity to shed light on any tension that you may be feeling. See our tips below for navigating difficult conversations.
- Move to a different team or department. If the relationship cannot be improved, changing managers might be a solution. Talk to your HR department about any internal opportunities.
People don't quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. If all else fails, the best way to deal with a bad boss may be to quit. If you have put in the time and effort to improve your situation and you still find yourself stressed and exhausted it might be time to find a new job. There's only so much you can do. Value your time and mental health and find a workplace that values you.
Confronting coworkers who steal your thunder
Whether it's intentional or an honest mistake, a coworker taking credit for your work is a shocking and infuriating experience. It's time to stand up for yourself. While it may be uncomfortable, it's necessary to ensure your contributions don't go unnoticed.
- Have a heart to heart. If a coworker or boss has taken credit for your work, it's probably time to have a one-on-one conversation with them. First, make them aware of the situation, as it may have been unintentional. If it was done on purpose, let them know that it is unacceptable to steal your work.
- Involve a manager. If you are uncomfortable with direct confrontation or if you have had a conversation and they continue to take credit, reach out to your direct manager and HR business partner to inform them of the situation.
- Document your work. Having evidence is your best defense when sticking up for yourself in this situation. Document your project contributions from the start and make sure your involvement is visible to others. Not only does this help your cause but you will also have advocates who can come to your defense if it happens again.
Tips for navigating difficult conversations
Difficult conversations are well...difficult. The truth is, facing difficult situations and having hard conversations is part of any job. While most people avoid conflict, the most effective way to resolve issues at work is to talk them out. Being assertive and sticking up for yourself takes practice. It isn't easy to confront coworkers, but the more you do it the more confident you will become in advocating for yourself.
- Assume positive intent. Most people probably aren't trying to sabotage you and you may be dealing with a misunderstanding. Try to see things from the other person's point of view before confronting them.
- Keep the conversation professional and non-emotional. Tone and choice of words are important when having a difficult conversation. Use "I" statements to express yourself, this can help keep defenses down: I feel like you took credit for my work. I feel disrespected when the team excludes me.
- Offer a solution. The end goal of a difficult conversation is to come to a solution, not to play the blame game. Give them a chance to explain themselves and ask questions to understand why they did what they did. Try to come to a solution together to avoid a similar situation happening again.
Being respected vs being liked
If you're afraid that hard conversations will make you unlikeable, think again. While confronting others may not come across as nice, worry less about likability and focus more on being respected and appreciated.
- Focus on the value you bring. By trying to please others and avoid conflict you may find yourself becoming a doormat in toxic environments. Instead of wanting to be liked, focus on how you can bring value to your team and organization. When you're collaborative and bring value to others, they will likely appreciate it.
- Nip it in the bud. If a coworker or boss is being difficult or crosses a line, talk with them directly. If that doesn't work, go to their superior to ensure this person understands your boundaries.
- Not everyone likes juicy peaches. You can't control who likes you. Some people will and some people won't. While we all want to be liked, sometimes it's easier to accept that we can't be everyone's cup of tea...and that's ok.
Need more help navigating your unpleasant work situation? Check out PowerToFly's mentorship services here!
💎 How to build trust in your team? Watch the video to the end to find out!
📼 How should you work to build trust in your team? Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Veronica Setzke, Senior Director of People Ops at Pax8, who shares tips and tricks she learned through years of coaching.
📼 How to build trust with peers in your team? Tip #1: Relationships. There's no better way to start forming relationships than having regular one-on-ones. It doesn't have to just be with your supervisor. It can be with your coworkers. It can be with those people that you collaborate regularly with. And it's really important in these one-on-ones that we're spending time listening. Take the time to be present and listen. Also, spend time together not working. Have lunch together. Go for coffee. Take a five-minute walk around the building and just have a conversation. Relations are a key element to trust!
📼 How to build trust? Open yourself in your team Tip #2: Vulnerability. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Ask for feedback, whether it's feedback about a project, a process, or even maybe a leadership behavior that you're trying to master. This allows those on your team and those around you to see you as willing to be vulnerable. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand. It doesn't mean that you’re weak, but rather that you’re open. It allows your team to understand that it's a safe place for them to also be vulnerable.
How To Share To Build Trust In Your Team - Tip #3: Clear Is Kind
Keep the team informed and say as much as you can about what you know. There are times that we hold information that could be shared. We could share that information that impacts others' work and have them have the opportunity to use that to do better. If you've learned something that could help your colleague make a better decision, share that! Try to ensure that your communication with others is clear. When you make the effort to be clear about your intentions, your work, and your roadblocks, it opens others up to do the same.
📨 Are you interested in joining Pax8? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Veronica Setzke
She works as a People professional because she sincerely believes that people want to be excellent, and it is her role to help move the obstacles to their achieving success. She believes the employees deserve a culture that values their work and will respond to such a culture by creating amazing results. If you are interested in a career at Pax8, you can connect with Veronica on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Pax8
The company simplifies the way organizations buy, sell, and manage cloud solutions, empowering its partners to achieve more with cloud technology. At Pax8, they know that they are only as great as their people. They realize that every individual has unique personal and professional aspirations, which is why they strive to offer a complete and competitive Total Rewards offering for their members and family.
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.