How much harm does working with difficult people do? Here’s what people had to say. And more from the survey – the 3rd most difficult behaviour.

Why care about the work environment and the impact of difficult behaviour on others?

Survey respondents gave distressing feedback on the harm from working with difficult and dangerous people.  There were some sad and even heartbreaking responses to the question about the impact of working with a difficult person.  Here are some of them:

  • I felt like I withdrew into a corner and tried to become invisible
  • Made me cry, nervous, anxious, doubt myself, make errors as standing over me on a deadline
  • Impacted my mental health, undermined my professional position, consumed too much of my work time dealing with them.
  • I felt insecure, isolated, unintelligent, defensive and unsure.
  • Time consuming to manage and takes up a lot of head space, don’t get the results required, draining.
  • I went out of my way to avoid them at all costs because the experience of dealing with them was so negative
  • Made work frustrating to be at.

Here are some behaviours that survey respondents described:

  • Narcissistic, not transparent, ego driven, alienating, builds silos
  • Disengaged, difficult to communicate with, kept to themselves, not on the same page as the rest of the team, put self first.
  • Cranky, aggressive, not accepting change, gossiping, undermining of my position, not willing to accept help, complaining.
  • Egotistical and no sense of win/win. Self-promoter and constantly tried to limit others access to information.
  • They only look after their own interest.

The 3rd most difficult behaviour at work?

Coming in just behind not doing their job properly is the very close third attribute, not co-operating with others.  This is about the person who seems to find it hard to work well with others.  Most of us have come across a person like this and have a strong sense of what this is like, including for example:

  • Seemingly straightforward jobs are harder than they need to be because there is a lot of wasted energy and time getting information from them.
  • It can be difficult and demanding to get them to complete their part of a task. And even if they do the work well, it can feel exhausting trying to get them there.
  • Information is usually not shared and has to be ‘extracted’ from them.
  • A lot of time and emotional effort goes into always having to follow-up to ensure work is completed when it is due.
  • Sometimes there is antagonistic behaviour and just having to deal with them becomes a source of stress and strain.

Your experience

  • Have you worked with a person who was uncooperative?
  • What impact did it have on you?

Do you have a story to share?

If you want to share your story about the difficult person at work you can email me at

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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