Topic 3- Dealing with difficult people

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:39 pm by adurborow

In your opinion, what does it mean to act professionally? That is the first question I want to pose to you in this lesson.  Do we agree that a big part of acting professionally is doing what is in the best interest of the workplace? Even if it means we might get our feelings hurt?

 We are going to have people come into our workspace that are going to be negative. Do we still have an obligation to serve those patrons? I hope your answer is “YES!”

 People are negative and/or difficult for a variety of reasons. Most of the time it is a reflection of things going on in their lives, it very seldom has anything to do with you. So what are some of our options for responding to those people?

First and foremost we must remember that we are in a position that requires us to serve customers and colleagues. This means if a colleague or patron comes to you upset about something you do have control over, the best way to handle it is to serve that customer or colleague, solve their problem, and send them on their way. Most of the time, if you can help a patron solve their problem they will be satisfied and will no longer be frustrated or angry. Remember, if the problem does extend beyond that, any and all approaches we take must be as professionals. We must not allow ourselves to be hurt or angered on a personal level. 99% of conflicts we will run into in the workplace have absolutely nothing to do with us personally. Yet, 99% of the time we choose to respond to those situations as if they were personal attacks. Why do you think that is?

The following links are to websites with practical advice to dealing with negative people. Read the three links I have posted and when you comment on this lesson I want you to add two or three tips that have worked for you personally when dealing with conflict in your professional life. If you can’t think of any new tips, please expand on two or three of the tips you have read. Maybe even add a success story? Also, in your response, please think about the following comment, “ How do we keep people from becoming frustrated or angry in the first place?” I think the first way to do that is to train our staff to serve our patrons better. Each staff member should know how to best meet customer needs. Also, it is important for staff members to understand the chain of command so they know where to send customers when a problem is beyond the scope of that particular staff member’s control. What are some of your suggestions to help staff members better serve customers?





  1.    Emily Brown said,

    October 11, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    In the workplace it is a must that everyone act professionally. First and foremost this means communicating with each other. When communication occurs, than there are signs of respect. When communication is lacking, that is when our professionalism lacks.

    When a conflict arrises the number one thing you can do is communicate with the other person. Bringing in others to your side, is something that should not be done. You need to deal with the conflict together and solve the problem by discussing it together. No one is always right. Therefore, by communicating you can talk about the problem and listen to each others side.

    I’m on IBB. This is the team of teachers and board members who get together to talk about our contract and issues within the district. Of course there will always be teachers who complain and we take those to the board. In order to deal with this, our team has a set of rules. We must list our arguments, while they list theirs. Find the common ones and discuss those issues and why they are a problem. Then, we work together to find a reasonable solution that we both can handle. I believe in this strategy for dealing with negative people/problems within our profession.

    Some tips that have worked for me personally when dealing with conflict in my professional life is once again communicating. First, I listen to their problem, ask what I can do to help, and then I see if they have suggestions, and last I give them mine. I believe, if you let the person discuss the issue and explain first they are less angry in the end. They have their chance to explain their side of the problem and we are listening. People like when others listen to them. Then, when you ask, “What can I do to help” they know you were listening and really want to help solve the problem.

    Basically, there will always be conflict and negativity within society. How you treat the other person will provide the outcome. My moto is treat others how you would want to be treated.

  2.    Brenda White said,

    October 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Acting professionally in this profession is vital to being successful. It is so easy to get caught up in some of the negativity that surfaces. It is often hard to avoid the negativity, but learning to deal with it when it comes from others is essential. I find it easy to avoid being caught up in negative situations by focusing on my job performance and not everyone else. There is not time to focus on the education I am trying to give my students, and what the teacher next door is saying about the teacher on the first floor. Sometimes, being professional does mean feelings get hurt. But a positive environment is essential when educating students.
    I agree with Emily, communication is the key to avoiding negativity and conflict.

  3.    markporter said,

    October 18, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Acting professionally is an issue for all educators, but can be very difficult for a LMS. Since the library is often the center of a school, information (and rumors) often flow to the library first. The LMS is in a unique position to have access to all forms of information. Because of this unique position, the LMS needs to have a high level of professionalism to be successful.

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