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Use Your Emotional Intelligence to Succeed with “Difficult” Colleagues

How to tap into your inner strength to optimize your contribution

Most people have known someone at work they would describe as “difficult”. Difficult colleagues might be button-pushers, chaos creators, chronic disputers, complainers, or a variety of other things, and they can add significant stress to your life. When this stress gets out of control, it can impact your performance.

TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people and found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress to remain calm and in control.

Tapping into your emotional intelligence is your key to reducing your stress and neutralizing your difficult person.

In other words, you can identify and manage how you express your emotions. But you can also identify and help manage others’ emotions.

This means you have more control than you realized.

Set Boundaries – Your emotions and how you’re expressing them, and your reaction to another person’s emotions can influence the outcome of the situation. Let’s say that you’re in a conversation with your difficult colleague and They begin going down an endless emotional path of denial regarding their responsibilities on a recent project. You decide not to engage any longer. You might say something like, “I really don’t see there being a positive outcome to this conversation, so I’ll talk with you another time.” And before anything else can be said, you leave.

Stick to your boundaries. Stay with solutions-based conversations and set time limits to your one-on-one meetings.

If you spend a little time understanding your Emotional Intelligence, you’ll recognize the power you have to create change in your life—professionally and personally, your stress will go down, and you’ll feel good about your contributions to the team and the organization.


This Insight was contributed by Kim Zimmer and inspired by March 14, 2017, article, “How Smart People Handle Difficult People” written by Travis Bradberry.

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