Episode 8

Dealing with Difficult People

Published on: 20th September, 2021

You know the ones. The people who play office politics, whine, constantly interrupt, or let their ego run rampant. In this episode of Faithful on the Clock, we’ll cover how to deal with these “difficult” people so your team is strong and the office is a great place to be.


[00:04] - Intro

[00:32] - Just about everyone has stories about difficult people at work, but getting along is essential because relationships support everything else, such as morale.

[01:10] - There is always a reason behind someone’s difficult behavior. If you learn what that is, then you can be empathetic instead of assuming that the other person is intentionally malicious.

[02:05] - I had a difficult coworker who was very negative. I initially focused on that negativity.

[02:44] - After refocusing on the “why” behind my coworker’s behavior, I was able to reorient myself and be helpful to them. Similarly, you can help others; you just need to know their “why” first.

[06:00] - Relationships are always two-sided, so consider how, if at all, you are contributing to the conflict.

[07:40] - Follow proper procedures and protocols, document everything, and go to your boss/HR if needed. They have a responsibility to create a safe culture.

[08:38] - If your company’s leadership will not help you, consider whether it is worth it to stay in the toxic environment. Don’t be afraid to leave if that’s what’s healthiest for you.

[09:22] - Summary of four main points

[09:58] - Prayer

[10:56] - Outro/what’s coming up

Key takeaways:

  • Dealing with difficult people is critical at work because when your relationships are solid, performance, morale, and other points all improve.
  • From dealing with a former coworker, I learned that there is always a reason for the way someone behaves on the job. If you set aside your personal feelings or perception that it’s a personal attack, you can look for that reason and be more empathetic.
  • Because people will mirror you, and because management might discipline you for any retaliation, be loving, pray for the people who offend or trouble you, and focus on doing your job.
  • Make sure that you are self-accountable and consider what role, if any, you play in conflicts. Be an inspiration or support rather than a stumbling block.
  • Follow policies and procedures to the letter, communicate with management to the best of your ability, and if needed, leave the environment if it has become truly toxic.

Relevant Links:

Mirror Neurons: How We Reflect on Behavior

Become a Better Leader by Consciously Modeling Leadership Behaviors


  • Look for the deeper reason behind someone else’s behavior.
  • Respond in love/kindness rather than retaliation.
  • Consider how you contribute to tough scenarios and take responsibility for your part.
  • Follow your company’s policies and procedures in trying to raise concerns about others. If management does not respond properly, draw a limit about when you will leave the toxic environment. 

What’s coming up next:

Money is the root of all evil--or is it? In the next episode of Faithful on the Clock, you’ll learn whether having wealth is okay as a Christian professional, and what that means for the attitude you need to have as you experience success.


Well, look at that, everybody, it’s time to start the show again. This is Faithful on the Clock, the podcast all about getting your faith and work aligned. I’m your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and today we’re going to cover how to deal with the so-called “difficult” people at your workplace. Let’s get right into that so you can strengthen and connect with your team right now.


Folks, I’ll be honest in that most of the people I’ve worked with have been absolutely amazing people. But let’s face it, I ain’t gonna lie, there are some “characters” out there. I’ve got a good friend, for example, who rants to me every time we get together, I’m not even kidding, about the nonsense that happens at their job, and I know y’all have horror stories of your own, too, am I right? That’s part of life, I guess, but it’s so important to try to get along at work because when you have great relationships at your job, performance, morale, innovation, just about everything gets better, because there’s good trust as a foundation.


So the first thing is, one thing I’ve learned and absolutely want to remember about difficult people at home or work--and I truly believe this--is that there is always a reason for their behavior. Maybe they didn’t have anybody teaching them until now. Or maybe they’re motivated by fear or loneliness or other things. But so often, their reason really has nothing to do with you. It’s not personal. And I think that’s our knee-jerk reaction, to think that it is personal. But if you can just set aside the feeling of annoyance or hurt they make you feel for a second, and if you can focus on figuring out what’s really motivating them to act the way they do, then you can start trying to hit the problem from a place of empathy rather than just assuming it’s maliciousness or that they can’t change.


As an example, I used to work with this person back in the day when I was fresh out of college, and we actually had the exact same role. But I’m telling you, from the minute this individual walked into the office, they could not stop pointing out all the things that were going wrong, or that hadn’t been done yet, and they would almost always point the finger and complain how badly other people treated them. And every time I was scheduled to work with this person, it just felt like, that whole somebody went to the bathroom on my cornflakes. Air just got sucked right out of the room. And I focused on that for such a long time.


But then I thought, you know, why is it that this person has such a hard time seeing the positives? Why is it that they look for what’s going wrong? And it wasn’t until much later that I found out that this person had had a really rough time growing up, you know, had gone through some stuff, and they honestly just had learned from that they weren’t going to be treated the right way and that there was always a problem. And once I realized that, I could see how everything on their end was really more just habit, you know, they weren’t trying to be awful or anything, they just didn’t know how to be different. And so that really changed my perspective of how to approach this person, and I was able to get them to, you know, kind of start looking at how they could be more proactive and confident. I’m not saying everyone has some kind of hidden trauma or anything like that. I’m just saying, most people behave as they do because they’re trying to fill some kind of natural need that they have. You just need to know what that need is to help them move in the right direction.


just remember, like Proverbs:


And I think it’s instinctive when someone is being difficult for us to get offended and, you know, kind of bare our teeth a little bit when things get uncomfortable. But in Luke 6:27-29, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak, do not withhold.” And 1 Peter 3:9 has the same idea, and it says “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”


So you don’t deal with a difficult person by being as venomous or annoying as they are. You know, if you get down in the mud and roll around with a pig, you’ll look like a pig, too. So you deal with them by responding with kindness, always. Don’t try to retaliate or any of that, because in my experience, a lot of times that’s just going to backfire and you’ll be the one who gets disciplined, anyway. Just focus on doing your job, try to see what the other person needs to do their job, and just let the rest go. Because ultimately, you know who you are as God’s heir, and nothing is going to testify to that better than you being compassionate to somebody else.


Another big thing is, I think people are quick to forget that relationships are always two-sided. And sometimes, if somebody’s being difficult, you’re contributing to the situation in some way, too, whether that’s not communicating enough, you’re going after opportunities without considering the other person, that kind of thing.


ou there. The first is Romans:


Now, let’s just say that you’re doing all of these things and it’s still just a massive dumpster fire every time you go to work. The first thing is, remember that policies and procedures are there for a reason. Follow the process for filing complaints, document everything. Don’t be afraid to go to your boss or HR, because the person you’re dealing with can’t grow if they don’t even know where the boundaries are. And I think teaching them those boundaries and the right way to behave, that’s a very loving thing to do in the long run. And not only that, but your management needs to understand the dynamics of the culture if they don’t already, and it’s their responsibility to help create that environment where people can do their tasks and feel safe. Now, if you’re lucky, your company will have a policy that really does promote forgiving and letting people learn through their mistakes. But everybody should be clear on what needs or is going to happen.


Now, if your boss or HR won’t resolve the issue, and I hope sincerely that you don’t run into this, that’s where you have to take a serious look at your job and start thinking about whether staying in that kind of toxic environment really is going to help you or anybody else. If you have gone through every channel you can and nothing’s changing, then you very well might have to cut your losses. You know, my mom, I remember her saying you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. And you still want to have some faith in people and try, sure, but sometimes the situation really is so broken or you don’t have the resources or what have you, that the healthiest thing you can do is just to get out, and if anyone asks why you left, to just be honest.


So those are the main things. Always remember that there’s a reason for what’s going on, that you might not have all the puzzle pieces yet. Secondly, model what you want to see. Don’t be hard on people even if they’re hard or unkind to you. Third, be self-accountable and look for what part, if any, you played in what’s going on. And then, just make sure that you’re following all the policies and procedures. Don’t let anybody get off on technicalities or say that they didn’t know, and make sure you’re playing by the rules right to the bitter end.


So since I’ve already gabbed for quite a few minutes, let me pray really quick.


God, you are certainly the master of dealing with difficult people. Over and over again people do what they’re not supposed to do, to the point where you sent a flood to just clean everything out. But you also sent your Son. And no matter how rough things got, no matter how badly He was treated, He kept on loving and giving, and He never lost sight of His main objective or who He was. Help us treat others in the office with that same compassion, and to remember that we really are on the same team, not just in our companies, but as your children who are all important and precious to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


I’m officially done with this one, everybody. In the next episode, I’m going to be talking about one of the most debated issues with professional Christians--can you really be rich and be a follower of God at the same time? There’s one great person from the Bible who gives a big clue, and I’ll tell you exactly who that is next time. Until then, be blessed.

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About the Podcast

Faithful on the Clock
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
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Wanda Thibodeaux

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.

Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.