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Chapter 1. Don't Just Sit and Suffer > The Cost of Difficult People - Pg. 5

Don't Just Sit and Suffer 5 Let's make this more concrete. Noah, the Prophet of Doom, works for you. At meetings, whenever an idea is suggested, Noah is the first to tell everyone why it won't work, and why he knows best. If left unchecked, what do you think will happen? Well, people aren't stupid. Eventually, they tire of having their ideas and their heads bashed with a two-by-four and stop suggesting ideas. The source of new ideas dries up. No new products. No new services. No new improvements. No business! Apart from the business side, Noah and his dire predictions depress co-workers and others around him. Regardless of the difficult person's particular style of being difficult, he or she can have a profound effect on others. For example, difficult people affect others by ... · · · · · · · reducing enjoyment of their work. wasting large amounts of their time. reducing their productivity and job satisfaction. causing them to consider resigning and moving on. eating up huge amounts of time in meetings. damaging relationships with customers. turning other people into difficult people. The last point deserves a bit more discussion. If you have a single difficult employee, don't believe that only that person's behavior is at stake here. A difficult person is contagious. Yes, being difficult is catchy. I once worked with a person who was extremely difficult. Let's call her Donna to protect the guilty. While very smart, she had little ability to work with people, and wherever she went she was followed by a little black cloud. Her blunt rudeness, tendency to interrupt, and general "Queen-of-the-Empire" attitude made people mad or just drove them nuts. Her manager probably spent literally hundreds of hours fixing up things that went sour due to Donna's attitude. From the Manager's Desk No single thing makes a difficult person "difficult." To red flag a difficult person so you can take action, look at the pattern of behavior the person shows and look at how they affect you, co-workers, customers, and others. The people around her were generally easygoing and interacted well with each other. However, after years of dealing with her behavior, even the easygoing employees started acting difficult, both to Donna and even to each other. That happened for two reasons. First, Donna set a tone of incivility in the workplace. People felt they must eat or be eaten, and adjusted their actions accordingly. Secondly, Donna affected almost everyone everyday, and people just got frustrated. That frustration spilled over into their interactions with others. In the end, the office was overflowing with difficult people. So, Donna--and difficult people in general--don't just affect their bosses or one or two people. They affect many, many people around them. Left to their own devices, they can bring real work to a virtual halt, cause good employees to quit and generally make the office a lousy place to be.