Don’t take people’s behaviour personally. It is likely their difficult characteristics have become a habit and they will react the same way with most people. Realise and accept that if your boss gives you a tough time because he/she is stressed, it isn’t personal. Assistants are there to make their bosses’ lives easier – so if bosses feel better for having had a rant (even if it isn’t your fault) and they are then in a better frame of mind to win the business or perform better, then you are doing your job – it isn’t personal!
Difficult people are not born difficult; they create and learn how to express these attitudes and behaviours, and because they are ‘learned’ behaviours we can influence them to have better ones. Separating the behaviour from the person is the key to a successful working relationship. The bad behaviour may be temporary due to overwork or personal stress, or due to something as simple as lack of management skills. Understanding and empathising with the underlying reasons means your boss can save face and improve his/her behaviour appropriately.
When you want to solve a problem, tell yourself not to think so hard about it and let your subconscious go to work. When you try to deal with conflict you need to consciously work on it, using both the logical left-hand side and the creative righthand side of the brain. The more creative you are, the better the insights and the more ingenious the solution. Logical thought processes are enhanced by creativity, which comprises our imagination, intuition, ‘brain connections’ and good ideas that appear to just pop into your head. These thought processes occur when you are relaxed and doing other things than just concentrating on the problem in hand, like taking a shower or driving to work. At such times our brains tend to make connections and we get an ‘Aha!’ moment when we realise something, which is when the right-hand side of your brain is working together with your subconscious mind. Once you have identified the problem in your head, relax and let your subconscious mind work on it for you.
Your subconscious brain works when you are asleep. You may have heard people say: ‘Sleep on the problem and see how you feel about it in the morning – it will all become much clearer.’ Try posing yourself a question before you go to sleep and remember to tell yourself: ‘You don’t need to consciously think about the problem because your subconscious will do it for you so you can get a good night’s undisturbed sleep.’ It’s amazing how things are clearer in the morning and how often ideas pop into your head because your subconscious has been working on it throughout your sleep.
You can deal with difficult people by using ‘emotional intelligence’ (EI), which is a form of intelligence relating to the emotional side and entails being able to understand and having the skills to cope with your own emotions and feelings and those of others. You need to be self-aware, be able to motivate yourself, have emotional self-control and be able to empathise with others. Using EI you would be able to spot potential conflict, handle difficult people and tense situations with diplomacy and tact, bring disagreements into the open and defuse situations by encouraging open discussion that results in win–win solutions.
Dealing with difficult people takes practice, so don’t get discouraged and do be tenacious with the strategies, tools and techniques that will help you deal with difficult characteristics of bosses and conflict management.
If you want to shine in your role, take a look at the training courses we offer at Bingo Traders. Designed specifically for EAs, PAs, HR, Admins, Office Managers,… , these learning opportunities provide the skills and knowledge you’ll need to excel.
Sue France / Photo on Unsplash