Healthcare Workplace Spotlight: Managing Difficult People

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No matter where we work, we will surely have encounters with difficult people. However, healthcare workplaces can be home to high-pressure environments that do not always bring out the very best in the individuals that work in them. Factors such as stress, snap decisions, illness, and organizational hierarchies can all contribute to disillusionment that may lead to difficult behaviors from some people.

Some healthcare workers might have the terrible misfortune of working with a condescending boss, control-freak supervisor, micromanaging chief nurse officer, whiny coworker, mean-spirited patients or their verbally abusive family members and visitors. Regrettably, these folks are all relatable characters that are intertwined in the day to day theatrics of the modern healthcare workplace.

Medical-oriented workplaces such as healthcare facilities can be intensely stressful, so it is not particularly shocking that this type of environment does not always bring out the most noble qualities in people. In addition, those who do work in the healthcare sector have probably experienced more than one instance in which the difficult conduct of coworkers or managers has resulted in hard feelings long after the offending event.

Without further delay, if a healthcare worker happens to have a coworker or boss who is horribly difficult to manage in the workplace, here is a list of tips to help cope with the situation.

  • Make sure you are not becoming part of the problem. It is okay to complain as long as you come up with solutions to the issues you complain about. However, be careful to avoid falling into the trap of becoming a whiny complainer.
  • Tactfully confront the difficult coworker. During the confrontation, state the facts without becoming overly emotional. Communicate as assertively as possible. Take care to not become aggressive or passive in this confrontation.
  •  Focus more on the behavior and less on the difficult person. In reality, people usually are not the core problem. In fact, their behaviors are the problem.
  • Be future-oriented. Do not dwell on past occurrences. Do not continually revisit a difficult coworker’s past. After all, difficult people cannot change the past. Rather, they can only make alterations to their future behaviors.
  • Manage your expectations of others. Ask yourself if your expectations are truly realistic. If your expectations of proper healthcare workplace decorum and behaviors are too lofty, you might need to adjust them accordingly.

Good luck to every healthcare worker who is dealing with the hot-button subject of difficult coworkers. Please be aware that you are not alone in the fight to manage peoples’ difficult behaviors and habits.

REFERENCES

Employee Development Systems. (2007). Dealing With Difficult People: Participant Workbook. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from http://www.employeedevelopmentsystems.com/media/pdfs/DealingWithDifficultPeople.pdf

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