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Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992

2 colleagues at desk in front of laptop looking frustrated
Succeed at Work

“I have to deal with difficult people at work. Any advice for me?”


Dealing with people problems is never fun, but not dealing with them can be even worse. In most cases, it’s best to deal with difficult people head on. Ignoring the issues can create a toxic workplace, affect your physical and mental health, and make you feel like quitting your job.

How you deal with difficult people depends on the situation. Dealing with bullying or microaggression may require a different approach than dealing with a boss who doesn’t give you feedback or direction. In some situations, you may decide simply to ignore the conflict and move on. You may decide to handle the conflict directly with your co-worker. Or you may turn to management for help.

Whatever you decide, dealing with difficult people begins with clear, respectful communication. Stay calm, stay positive, express your needs, and mean what you say. Listen to what the other person has to stay too.

If an informal chat doesn’t work, try using techniques like issues-based problem solving. This creates a win-win situation in which all parties explore the issue, develop options, and choose a solution together.

If none of your efforts are working, it’s time to get help. If your supervisors can’t step in—or if they’re the ones who are causing the problem—you may need to take your case to HR.

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An alis staff member will review your question and respond via email. If it’s something that can help others look for work, explore careers, or succeed on the job, a version of your question and answer may even be added to the site.

Your privacy is important. If your question is published to alis, your identity will remain anonymous. Your email address and any other personally identifiable information will not be posted to the site.

If you require immediate assistance, please call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre at 1-877-644-9992.

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