What I Wish I Had Known About Dealing with Difficult People

Alix Nichole
6 min readDec 14, 2019

And 5 strategies I shared with a 30 year old colleague.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash

A junior colleague asked for help in correcting a vexing problem. In essence, she felt that her boss and team unjustly perceived her as whiny, competitive, angry and unwilling to receive feedback from others.

From her perspective, she was condescended to, micromanaged and even betrayed by duplicitous, back-biting peers who expertly offloaded their work onto her whenever the projects became tedious, laborious, or wrought with obstacles.

She also felt that she had been stripped of any autonomy in making even the most minute creative or editorial decisions. As the junior member of the team, she was catching all the proverbial “shit that rolls downhill.”

As an observer who interacts with same players and knows a bit of context and info about the personalities and overall situation, this is what I knew:

Her boss is an amazing and complicated mentor. She’s tough, free-spirited, and seems to thrive in intense situations. Outside of work, she’s navigating a messy, drawn-out divorce with an obsessive, borderline scary ex-husband while raising two small children. She manages a rotating shift of nannies who abruptly exit once they assess a true scope and dynamics of the job requirements. Her life appears frenetic and chaotic.

But at work, the Boss exhibits unflappable confidence while kicking down doors and whipping disparate navel-gazers into teams that produce with symbiotic flow; laughing in the face of conflict and resistance, and offering highly insightful and valuable feedback in a manner that is blunt and cuttingly on point. She sees the potential in this junior member of her team and is coaching her up, even when it hurts.

Said Boss hired her best friend as a Transformation Consultant. The Transformer (as we’ll call her here) is a Ph.D. candidate who is dynamic, bold, highly intelligent, inspiring in her visions for what is possible, and masterful at self-promotion. With unshakable confidence and certainty in her world view, she is fearless in her willingness to dismantle and discredit others’ points of view while defending the validity of her own. While her approach can be unsettling (we are in the South, after all)…

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Alix Nichole

I write about the spiritual and sometimes practical components of universally human experiences - so pretty much anything is game.