How to Work with Difficult People so that they Willingly Collaborate

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Collaborating with difficult people can be a tricky and daunting process. However, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you take the right approach. In this article, I’ll explain how to work with difficult people so that they collaborate in a productive way.

First of all, it’s important to understand why someone might be difficult to work with in the first place. There could be any number of reasons, from personality clashes to feeling unheard or disrespected. It could also be that the person is simply not comfortable working in groups or taking instruction from others. Whatever the reason, it’s important to try and view it from their perspective before acting on it.

Once you have an understanding of why someone might be difficult, there are several steps you can take to make collaboration easier for everyone involved. The most important thing is communication – talking openly and honestly about how everyone is feeling and what needs to be done will help keep things on track and avoid misunderstandings further down the line.

It’s also important to set boundaries and stick by them when working with someone who’s being difficult. Everyone should respect each other’s boundaries – whether that’s around timing or expectations – as this will help create a safe space for collaboration where people feel heard and respected.


Another key step is creating an environment of trust and mutual respect between colleagues – even those who are having difficulty collaborating with one another. This means making sure everyone feels valued for their contribution, no matter how small it may seem at times! Acknowledging positive contributions from all team members will go a long way towards building trust and fostering collaboration between everyone involved.

It’s also essential to remain calm when dealing with difficult people; getting angry or raising your voice will only make matters worse! Instead, try listening without judgment whilst maintaining a professional demeanor; this can help diffuse tense situations quickly without escalating them further. Showing empathy towards colleagues can also help establish common ground which then makes collaboration more likely in future scenarios too.

Lastly, don’t forget about yourself when working with someone who’s being difficult – give yourself some time out if needed so that you can come back refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way!

To illustrate these points further let us consider two examples:

Example One: You are leading a project team but one member has become disruptive due to feeling unheard during meetings or ignored when they provide input into decisions being made within the group – what do you do?

Firstly, communicate openly with this team member about their feelings; ask them directly if there is anything they want changed within the group dynamic so that they feel more included going forward? Secondly set clear boundaries around meeting times/agenda items etc., ensuring everyone understands their role in contributing effectively towards achieving project goals Thirdly create an atmosphere of trust amongst all team members by acknowledging positive inputs from all individuals Finally remain calm throughout any disagreements/difficult conversations – listen without judgement whilst maintaining a professional attitude throughout.

Example Two: You are part of a larger organisation which includes various departments but two teams have been finding it hard to collaborate due to differing views on processes – what do you do?

Firstly discuss openly between both teams about why certain processes may need changing in order for better collaboration going forward Secondly set clear expectations regarding deliverables/deadlines etc., ensuring everyone understands their role in achieving desired outcomes Thirdly establish trust between both teams by showing appreciation for relevant contributions Finally maintain professionalism throughout any disagreements/difficult conversations – listen objectively whilst remaining mindful of individual perspectives.

By following these steps outlined above it should become much easier for everyone involved (including yourself!) when dealing with challenging people who find collaborating hard – ultimately leading towards better results achieved through working together as one cohesive unit!

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