Ask Jamie: How to Deal with Difficult People in the Workplace

dealing w difficult people

Email Excerpt (shared with permission):

“I’m so irritated right now.  Our manager emailed us asking for assistance.  Then, since I was able to immediately assist, I went back and forth with our manager over SIX emails, including my coworker Simon every step of the way so that he was clearly informed about my progress.  My last email said to our manager- I 402d4b310b86d2000c5fb2a42e36fe46will wait for your confirmation prior to making that change.”  And guess what happens?  My coworker, who was absent from the conversation for the entire work day, replies “I’ve completed the change.”  WHAT THE F#$^#?!?!  This happens over and over again- he is constantly undermining me- he is consistently stepping in at the 11th hour and doing what I was just about to do, even though I was very clear that I was going to do it.  I’m furious!!! “

Today my client and I talked about boundaries at work, in particular with a coworker that is constantly and consistently overstepping boundaries in the middle of assignments/projects.  Do you see the red flag?  It was the words constantly and consistently.  So this is happening over and over again.  And we know in the LOA world, especially when something is happening over and over again:

we play a very critical role in that cycle- if we eliminate our part of the cycle, it can’t continue.

This is great news for any of us looking to break the cycle- just like all things “deliberate creation,” we can choose how we engage others.  Often, we don’t realize that what is happening around us is a reflection of what we are allowing and attracting into our lives.

If you find yourself in a similar situation- whether it is with extended family, at organizations you volunteer with or whether it is at the office, step one is awareness.  Be aware of patterns that emerge in your life- it means you are tolerating something.

Once you identify the pattern, “people do things that I was supposed to do,” or “people butt in and take over work that I was doing,” or “I was planning the family gathering and Aunt Martha stepped in and started taking it in a whole new direction as if I wasn’t planning it all along,” or “That was my assigned event for the school PTO and this other mom came over and started barking out orders,”  …you get the picture right?  The same issue can manifest in all areas of your life.  So awareness is step #1.

Step #2, Observe your reaction and your behavior- observe your emotions.  Were you instantly irritated?  Were your feelings hurt?  Did it upset you and make you feel like your worthiness was in question?  Did you feel disrespected?  Often, we have the biggest reaction to things that violate our personal values or are out of alignment with our higher self.

Give yourself time to process, but don’t get stuck in this step.  We aren’t looking to seethe, we are looking to allow and move through the emotion.  A great way to lessen the blow is to see if you ever do this inadvertently in your own life.  Another option is to question the malice in their intent and assume there was none.  Is it possible they just think they are being helpful?  Question the story you are telling and the meaning you are giving it.  The event itself is neutral until we give it meaning.

Step #3- Use this information as a stepping stone to better understand what you DO want.  The great thing about a negative event or experiencing something that you DON’T want, is that it helps you get super clear about what you DO want.  So that’s where the shift in fosecret-to-changecus comes- and that is really important:

We step away from focusing on what we don’t want and instead we channel our energy thinking about what we do want.

“I want others to ask me if I need their help before stepping in.”

Step #4- Set an intention that this is how it is in your life- affirm it, believe it, act as if that is how things are in your life.

“People offer me assistance all the time and only give it to me if I ask for it.”

“I am so happy and grateful that my coworker trusts me to handle my project tasks.” 

“I am well-supported and well-respected amongst my peers, coworkers and family.” 

“The people that surround me understand my needs and respect them.” 

How would you act differently if this were your reality?  How would you see things differently?  Would you carry yourself differently or speak differently?  Embody your intention and believe it is taken care of.

Will you wake up the next day and things are magically completely different?  Well it’s certainly possible!  One time, someone called me immediately apologizing even though I hadn’t “said” anything to them to warrant it.  Inner work truly can be that immediate and powerful.  Sometimes, people can IMMEDIATELY and instantly feel the energy shift and change is right there moments later.  No joke.  I have also experienced seemingly NO change for many days and then I see a shift a few weeks later.  Another opportunity will arise and it will be handled in a way that I desire- differently than how it was previously handled.

Either way, I do want to make one thing clear: you have to do your part.

Just like planting a seed- depending on what type of seed you plant and how well you take care of it, water it, and tend to it, ALL of those factors come into play and determine how quickly something sprouts up above ground for you to see.  But there is plenty going on under the surface until that day comes.  So just like you know that overnight, an apple tree with full grown apples will not sprout overnight, know too that things are evolving in your life, whether you immediately see it or not.

So decide you want somind-is-a-gardenmething different and act accordingly.  What I DON’T recommend is acting out of your negative emotion.  Everyone in the corporate world knows NOT to send an email out in anger, right???  Kinda goes with that sage advice.  When we are at a low vibration, when we are experiencing negative emotions like anger, insult or injury, we want to get ourselves to a better feeling place before making any decisions or taking outward action towards your coworker, family or friends.


Inner work first – always.  Then do what feels good next.  Before you take any sort of action, you want to be level-headed, in a feel good place, with an unemotional, open perspective.

Jamie Goins is a transformational life & business coach extraordinaire, traJamie Goins - Pic for Bioining expert & founder of Intentional Perspective.  ::Switching to 1st person::  If Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels ever had a love child, you’d probably get someone like me- not me, but close. 😉 It is my absolute passion to provide support, guidance, accountability, and encouragement to small business owners, mom-preneurs and others on their journey to gain clarity, discover new opportunities and achieve their highest aspirations.  I love life, love having fun, and love helping others be outrageously successful.  Come join me on my playground!





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2 Responses to Ask Jamie: How to Deal with Difficult People in the Workplace

  1. Nikky says:

    Nice one Jamie. Very well written.

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