Dealing With Difficult Employees Who Avoid Conflict Is Possible

Passive people may seem timid and harmless, but dealing with difficult employees who are passive can be a pain. Without raising their voices, they can cause a lot of headaches for managers. How? These individuals tend to fear anything that smells of conflict and will come up with “creative” ways to avoid or defuse it – even if doing so hurts their performance and that of others. Here are some ways they’ll do just that, and how managers can go about dealing with difficult employees and their passive nature:

  1. Shift the guilt. Passive people may try to manipulate a manager’s emotions when all she did was hold them accountable.

    Example: They’ll say, “Why are you being so mean to me?”
    What to do: When dealing with difficult employees like this, make sure they own their actions. Say: “Don’t confuse holding you accountable with being mean to you. I’m doing it because I care about your success.”

  2. Try to please everyone. Trouble is, a manager can’t count on this person’s yes, because he says yes to anything.

    Example: The manager asks for help at a party. The person agrees, then doesn’t show up.
    What to do: Say: “Are you sure of your answer? I’m really counting on you.”

  3. Play sick. Passive folks sometimes claim to feel ill, but rather than go home, try to trick a manager into validating their dubious complaint first. Typically, the person mopes around, leading the manager to ask if he needs to go home, at which he’ll claim weakly to be OK. This is a trap– the person wants the manager to be the one to insist he leave.

    What to do: When they say, “No, I’m fine,” the manager can say, “Good, then I’ve got lots of work for you to do.” They’ll quit their complaining.

Source: Glenn Shepard of Glenn Shepard Seminars, (615) 366-7217.

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