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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

When people drive you nuts

By Colleen Clark
Sun Media

We all know that we can't change other people, all we can manage is to alter our reaction to what others do.

If people thought they needed to change, they would. And I imagine they wouldn't behave in way that has us all wishing they would change, right?

Just because people don't behave the way we would like them to or how everyone else does, doesn't mean they are being difficult.

But, for those people who do drive us to drink, or at the very least, to seek out advice like this, here are some helpful hints, some of which are adapted from the book Getting Together: Building a Relationship That Gets to Yes.

- Separate relationship issues from content issues. Think "I will treat this person well whether or not I like what that person thinks or does. We have to work together and a true team player (me) wouldn't let this irritating behaviour stand in the way of productivity."

- Be considerate and constructive. Just because someone treats you with anger or impatience doesn't mean you have to retaliate in the same manner. It has always been said you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

- Our perceptions are not necessarily another's reality. You think your boss looks over your shoulder, your boss thinks he is unappreciated for his training time with you and others.

- Balance reason with emotion. Take a break, count to 10, consult a third party or talk about your emotions. If you are prone to emotionalism, try to use your head more than your heart in matters of business.

- Inquire, listen and understand. Stephen Covey said: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Get all the facts, ask questions, then freak out.

- Ask and share before you decide. People like to be a part of decisions that affect them. Get opinions, ideas and suggestions from others before final decisions are made.

- Be trustworthy. Trust is earned, not a rite of passage. The best laid intentions do not earn trust -- reliability and consistency help a lot.

- Persuade, don't coerce. A solution to a problem should be something both people support and feel committed to.

- Treat everyone with respect. Remember that the behaviour that upsets us is only a small part of the difficult person's makeup.

Colleen Clarke is a career specialist and corporate trainer and author of Networking -- How to Creatively Tap Your People Resources. Please see

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