Archive for Opportunities in Adversity

Face Your Limitations With The Attitude of Courage

Life is about managing the things that we tolerate. What are you no longer willing to tolerate? What is currently bad enough for your life that you are willing to let it go?

Can you answer these tough questions?

What limitations are in your way? What emotional limitations have you created that are tripping you up from being your very best? Is it a bad habit that needs to be broken in half and tossed to the curb? I am asking what limitations you are aware of that are preventing you from living your best, because you need to face them, get over them and get on with living a better life and now.
Is there something blocking you from achieving your dreams and happiness? Is there something that is ruining your relationships?

What is it for you?

Is it…

  • Fear?
  • A past experience?
  • Laziness?
  • Someone who hurt you, who you can’t forgive or forget?
  • An excuse of some sort?
  • A negative attitude?
  • A relationship?

Whatever it is, you need to face it, get over it and get on with it if you are ever to experience more out of life. You can’t get to the “more,” until you overcome what’s in the way of it. This is much easier said than done, but the very act of making the decision to get over it means you are on your way. You have raised the bar for your life. You are ready to explore beyond your current boundaries, to see what life really has to offer you.

The process of overcoming limitations doesn’t fully begin until you have a willingness to change, improve, and unlock the shackles you have placed upon yourself – willingly or unknowingly.

To get the best out of life and yourself, you have to get real with yourself and address this question: what negative limitations are keeping you from your best – your best attitude, best choices, best thinking, best that life has to offer? Identify what is in the way that is making you feel like you are in that rut, causing you to jostle up and down, preventing you from getting the promotion, making your relationships stale rather than enriched, keeping you from winning more sales, distracting those around you from cementing a common vision, igniting strife with co-workers, or distancing you from a healthy lifestyle.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you complain a lot?
  • Do you have a short temper – everything gets to you?
  • Do you judge others and criticize?
  • Do you believe nothing goes your way and that you are always the victim?
  • Are you too controlling?
  • Do you suffer from low self-esteem?
  • Filled with hate?
  • Emotional eating?
  • An addiction?

You have to at least be willing to face, conquer and move past what is holding you back. Really, what’s occurring is identity theft. Something is robbing you of your greatness in life. And the purpose of knowing what’s limiting you is that you will then know what you need to conquer.

Most limitations do not start on the outside of us; they start on the inside and work their way out. We tend to create most of our own limitations.

So examine your limitations and develop a plan to  overcome them. Perhaps you need to talk with someone who can help. Maybe it’s just time to make new choices that deliver new consequences.

The point is, if you are going to have any kind of breakthrough, you have to be willing to work on you and break free from what is preventing you from living your best.

When you face what limits you and conquer it, the world around you will shift and will begin to seem better all the way around!  Life will begin to reward you with freedom.

— Sam Glenn, author, speaker, chalk performance artist, attitude guy!


Sam Glenn Highlights

Sam Glenn awards include: MPI, Michigan Meetings & Events logo, Telly Awards
+!  Is often featured in thousands of newspapers with guest appearances on TV talk shows and radio programs.

+!  Has given speeches to audiences as large as 75,000 people at stadium events.

+!  Is the “go-to guy” for hundreds of organizations who value positive people engaged in positive action.

4 Leadership Skills to a Positive Work Atmosphere

4 Leadership Skills to a Positive Work Atmosphere

Wе hаνе all worked in places where we grew to drеаd getting up in the morning, and a few οf υѕ hаνе hаd thе pleasure οf working fοr a boss whο mаkеѕ υѕ feel lіkе wе саn dο anything right. Lеt’s examine a few differences between a positive аnd a negative work environment.

Signs οf a Negative Work Environment

  • Thе boss іѕ unfriendly.
  • Thе boss іѕ critical.
  • Thеrе іѕ high employee turnover.
  • Thеrе іѕ low employee morale.
  • People watch thе clock.
  • People don’t gеt much performance feedback.

Sam Glenn, Leadership QuoteSigns οf a Positive Work Environment

  • Thе boss demonstrates interest іn thе employees.
  • Thе boss hаѕ аn encouraging attitude.
  • Employees lіkе working thеrе.
  • Thеrе іѕ evidence οf company pride аnd loyalty.
  • People know whеrе thеу stand wіth thеіr supervisors.

Thousands οf books hаνе bееn written οn thе subject οf managing аnd motivating people, аnd аѕ many training seminars аrе conducted οn thіѕ subject around thе world еνеrу day. And уеt іt’s іntеrеѕtіng thаt even wіth аll οf thіѕ available information, few companies succeed аt сrеаtіng a positive work environment. Why is that?  Is it really that complicated or is someone making it complicated?  My research points to someone or several who make the process difficult.  There are four simple skills that if you implement them, you will begin to experience a more positive work atmosphere.  Lеt’s see whаt’s involved.

Four Key Leadership Skills to a Positive Work Atmosphere

Crеаtіng a positive work environment іѕ based οn four key skills. Thеу аrе:

  • Tеll people whаt уου expect οf thеm.
  • Shοw interest іn уουr team members.
  • Crеаtе аn encouraging environment.
  • Recognize аnd reward gοοd performance.

Leadership Skill #1 to a Positive Work Atmosphere:

State Yουr Expectations

Telling people whаt уου expect οf thеm means doing thе following:

• Communicating expectations clearly

• Having a specific job description

• Identifying specific performance standards

• Specifying deadlines

• Setting goals

Leadership Skill #2 to a Positive Work Atmosphere:

Shοw Authentic Interest іn Yουr Team – Employees – Associates

Whаt behaviors convey thаt someone іѕ interested іn уου?

  • Mаkіng eye contact
  • Calling уου bу name
  • Asking уουr opinion
  • Smiling
  • Complimenting уουr work
  • Taking уουr suggestions

Thеѕе behaviors convey a lack οf interest:

  • Ignoring уου
  • Nοt knowing уουr name οr nοt using іt
  • Nοt asking уουr opinion
  • Ignoring уουr suggestions
  • Nοt commenting οn уουr work
  • Following уουr suggestion, bυt οnlу whеn heard frοm someone еlѕе

Such signs discourage productivity bесаυѕе thеу mаkе people feel discouraged, аngrу, less confident, аnd stripped οf self-esteem.

Leadership Skill #3 to a Positive Work Atmosphere:

Crеаtе аn Encouraging Environment

Mοѕt people wουld agree thаt аn encouraging work environment іѕ one whеrе:

  • Yουr іdеаѕ аrе valued.
  • Creativity іѕ encouraged.
  • Initiative and risks аrе encouraged.
  • Fun аnd laughter аrе accepted.
  • Nеw іdеаѕ аrе rewarded.
  • Yου feel appreciated.
  • People thank уου fοr уουr contributions.
  • Flexibility іѕ valued.
  • Yου feel lіkе раrt οf thе team.

Crеаtіng such аn environment results іn thе following benefits tο employees.


• Contribute more іdеаѕ.

• Feel more committed.

• Look forward tο coming tο work.

• Arе more productive.

• Hаνе increased self-esteem.

• Have loyalty

Crеаtіng such аn environment results іn thе following benefits tο managers аnd business owners:

• Less turnover

• Less sabotage

• Greater loyalty

• Easier tο find employees due tο gοοd reputation

• Higher productivity

Leadership Skill #4 to a Positive Work Atmosphere:

Recognize аnd Reward Gοοd Performance

A reinforcer іѕ anything thаt happens, аftеr a behavior, thаt tends tο increase thе chances thаt thе behavior wіll bе repeated. Meaning, if you like what someone is doing, reinforce it my acknowledging the action.   Included аrе such things аѕ:

• Compliments

• Smiles

• Thumbs-up gesture – a little cheesy, but still fun to do.

• Saying “Thank уου″

• Public announcement οf уουr achievement

• Positive letter іn уουr personnel file

• Promotion

• Time οff

• Special parking space

• First сhοісе οn schedule

• Dinner wіth thе boss

• Tickets tο аn event

• Extra employee discount

• Picture οn thе bulletin board

• Applause аt a meeting

  • A gift card for gasoline
  • An all paid vacation.  (my personal choice)

Here are a few Recognition Guidelines

  1. Describe thе results уου аrе recognizing. Bе specific. It’s іmрοrtаnt tο mаkе сеrtаіn thе employee knows whаt behavior οr accomplishment уου аrе referring tο.
  2. State уουr personal appreciation. Sау, “I appreciate іt.” Adding уουr personal appreciation mаkеѕ thе compliment feel more genuine.
  3. Encourage thе person tο continue producing such gοοd work. Thіѕ increases thе chances thаt thе person wіll repeat thе desirable behavior.

Would you like a more positive work environment and the positive benefits that come along with it?

Then,  start small to get the ball rolling in the right direction by taking initiative to implement these 4 skills to a positive work environment.  Are they hard to do?  Not at all.  Can you start right now?  Yes you can!


This information is compiled, researched and written by Sam Glenn, The Attitude Guy.   Sam is a sought after motivational speaker by companies and organizations that want to re-charge attitude’s for positive action.  Sam Glenn offers strategies that combat stress and negativity in the workplace and ideas that ramp up teamwork, communication and the right culture where people will thrive.  Sam Glenn is a great kick off or closing to any event.  Sam Glenn’s Official Website: (

How Much Will a Bad Attitude Cost Your Company?

How Much Will a Bad Attitude Cost Your Company?


A positive attitude engaged in positive action leads to positive results. But what happens when not everyone has a positive attitude?  Have you thought of how much a bad attitude can cost your company?

Recently, I went to purchase a Television from a well know retailer.  I had an exact budget of $500.  As I browsed brands and sizes of televisions, I noticed an open box special on a TV, however it was a little more than my budget, but not by much.  I asked the sales associate if I could get it for $500.  It never hurts to ask, right?   She said, “I don’t have the authority to authorize that discount, but let me ask the store manger.”

She got on the service phone and called the manger.  We stood there waiting and then waiting some more.  Five minutes go by, then ten and then fifteen.  She excuses herself to try and call the manager again.  A short five minutes later, I see what appears to be a manager rounding the corner of the electronics aisle.    I could tell this manager was not in a good mood because as he walked around up to me and the sales associate, he exuded an attitude of negativity – like we just interrupted his day.  This is not the best way to approach a customer who represents revenue.  His negativity continues. He did not make any eye contact with me, great me with a hello, smile or seem all that interested in being helpful.  He just wanted to get on with his day as I was not a customer, but a hiccup.

First words out of his mouth were the wrong words, “What seems to be the problem?”   The sales associate explained that I had a budget of $500 and the open box was just a few dollars over my budget, but she wanted to get authorized to discount it so I could afford it.

“Without even letting the sales associate finish what she was saying, the manager rudely shook his head back and forth and said with an agitated tone,   “No, we can’t give you the discount because it has already been discounted.”  Then turns on his toes and begins to march away.

You see, what you permit is what you promote and I don’t tolerate being treated the way that manager treated me.  Before he got to the end of the aisle, I called out, “Excuse me, what is your name?”

Very defensively, he turns and points to his name tag, “I am manager Mike.”

I said, “I have money to spend today and the way you just treated me as a customer was inappropriate behavior, especially someone in a leadership role as yourself.  The difference between you and I is that I represent revenue for this company and you represent an expense.  Treating customers how you just did is how you lose revenue.  Would you agree with that manger Mike?”

Manager Mike didn’t really appreciate my valuable leadership training.  The bottom line is, I walked into this large retailer to spend hard earned money which translates into revenue and profit for the company.  Manager Mike’s bad attitude cost the company the sale.  I don’t give money to companies that treat me bad and nor should you.  What manager Mike didn’t realize is that as a customer, it doesn’t matter how big of a retail chain you are, I as a single customer hold the power to “FIRE” your entire company at my choosing.  I do that when I choose not to buy from you anymore.

Now, whoever trained manager Mike forgot to mention that attitude determines sales, customer care, leadership and success.  Or they didn’t put enough emphasis or priority into attitude training that the consequence is lost revenue.  This begs the accountability question, who should be held accountable for any employee associate in the workplace that acts in a manner that creates negative circumstances as manager Mike did?

Now to a big retailer like this, you might think it is not a big deal.  Well I happen to know for a fact that this company cut out their attitude wellness programs because of budget issues.  Was it the best choice for them?  Let’s do some math and we will see.  In a recent customer service survey, they this international retailer was rated next to last next to tech support.  It gets better.  To justify why stock prices have dropped to the shareholders, the CEO is quoted as saying “People are just running out money.”

People may be tight on money these days, which means they are getting smarter about how they shop and where.  In an effort to generate more income to raise the stock price, this retailer decided it would cater to “gun enthusiast” by selling guns in more of their stores.  Are you getting the math yet?

If you were going to do anything to generate revenue for your organization and you are ranked almost dead last in customer service, it shouts, “Get a clue.  Bad attitudes are an expense that will cost you profits.”

My $500 lost sale may not have been much to this retailer, but let’s just say you duplicate my experience which I had with them and put that in 5000 of their stores.  And then let’s do some math; take one employee associate from every store who treats a customer in a negative way only one day out of the year and it costs the store $500 in lost revenue.  How much does that come out to be?  $2,500,000 a year.   Can you believe that a bad attitude could cost that much?  What if we change it up a bit and say 5 bad attitudes cost the store $500 each 5 days a year in 5000 stores.  A bad attitude equals: $62,500,000. Wow! That number is insane and is a result of bad attitudes in the workplace.  It doesn’t really matter how you calculate the scenario, a bad attitude will cost your company a small fortune and if a big retailer like the one I am highlighting, a good size fortune.  Does it make sense to develop and make some sort of attitude wellness program part of training procedures?

Understanding and implementing this philosophy into your company can save you a good chunk of change.  When you mix the right attitude into your efforts, skills and knowledge, you work to achieve the right results.  The bottom line is this:  A positive attitude will do more for you and through you than a negative attitude will.  If you are not investing a little time and effort into ensuring that the right attitude is being distributed by employees, you will invest a fortune fixing the mess that a bad attitude creates.  It’s not about wearing a slogan on your vest, shirt as much as it is actually living up to that slogan through your attitude and actions.  Words don’t mean anything unless you can back them up.  It is deception when your uniform says you care, but bad attitude clearly says you don’t.  It is the responsibility of leadership to make sure that their people have the right tools and guidance in order to develop, maintain and serve others with a better attitude.

This information is compiled, researched and written by Sam Glenn, The Attitude Guy.   Sam is a sought after keynote motivational speaker by companies and organizations that want to re-charge attitude’s for positive action to achieve positive results.  Sam Glenn’s Speeches and Motivational Books offer strategies that combat stress and negativity in the workplace and ideas that ramp up teamwork, communication and a positive culture where people will thrive.  Sam Glenn is a great kick off speaker or closing to any event.  Sam Glenn’s Official Website: (

Increase Your Self-Love and Self-Acceptance

We will be running a series of guest blog entries submitted to us for the new year on how people used attitude to overcome adversity. Enjoy! -Sam Glenn

Excerpt from Junk Foods & Junk Moods: Stop Craving and Start Living!

By Lindsey Smith

Insecurities—we all have them. While I am happy with myself and confident in my being, subtle doubts and insecurities creep into my mind from time to time.

I can think of many instances where I thought, “I’m not doing enough.” “Am I going to make it?” “I’m not skinny enough, pretty enough, nice enough.” And the list goes on.

Like you, I’ve seen countless billboards, TV commercials, and magazine advertisements to give me a kick in my own ego and make me want someone else’s hair, body, or general looks. Our society constantly encourages us to search for something better than ourselves.

Read More →

How Can a Motivational Speaker Improve Your Attitude?

Do you ever feel like the whole world is conspiring against you? Are you the type of person who is always posting on Facebook about “bad days gone worse?” How many times have you wished you could just crawl back into bed and get a “do over” on the day? Some people have trouble with relationships or with their careers, but it seems like your difficulties spread to every single facet of your life somehow. You are no longer in control, but a passenger in this insane life. You are the perfect candidate for a motivational speaker who will tell you that there is no such thing as “luck,” but rather, it is all about the attitude we possess and the vibrations we send out to the world. Read More →

“It’s Over”

What are the best words that bring you comfort?  For me, they are, “It’s over.”  Some might view those words as a negative, but not me.  Once growing up, we had such bad storms, and I remember sitting in the closet waiting for it to be over.  Hearing the words, “It’s over!” gave me peace.

What calms your stress?  Your anxiety?  Your fears?

If you are like me, I have a huge fear of needles. I am almost 40, and still act like a 5-year-old kid when I find out I need a shot or give blood. That needle stings!  I just wait for those comforting words, “It’s all over…all done!”

Any the nurse always says, “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“Heck yeah it was. Where is my sticker and sucker?”

We all have trigger words that can either put us in a bad place or give us peace.  I know what mine are because I took the time to define them, and the reason why is because life doesn’t stand still. You never know what storm lurks around the corner that will stress you out, make your heart race, or drain you of a positive attitude.

Have you ever started the day off with the best mood and then something happens and you can actually feel the positive air flow right out of you?  You feel deflated and emotionally tapped. A part of you just wants to drive right home, crawl into bed, and sleep for a long time.   Read More →

New Beginnings Can be Tough

by Sam Glenn

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” -Maria Robinson

New beginnings mean a fresh start and a new take on the way you will move forward in life. The other night I was flying home from California, and I started to reflect on what new beginnings means to me. It means change. Things are not going to be the same as they were. What worked yesterday, may not work today. New beginnings mean acceptance of change.  

A few years ago, I was out to dinner with some friends, and they told me they invited a friend from church who had lost his wife of 40-some years. He was depressed and not doing well. He hadn’t asked for this “new beginning,” and I am sure he didn’t want it. It was undoubtedly hard for him to accept and walk peacefully in the new beginning. Years have gone by since, however, and he has found ways to move forward and accept the new beginning.

Some new beginnings mean looking for new work. Maybe one job isn’t working out or you got laid off. A friend told me just today that they are struggling to make it and have accepted the fact that they may lose their home to foreclosure because they cannot afford the bills. There is no money coming in. New beginnings can be sad moments at first, but there are lessons to embrace that can make the transition a positive experience. The positive for my friends is that their faith has grown more and their relationship has improved.   

My grandma who turned 91 this past Tuesday is in great health, but she is slowly forgetting stuff and names. I remember being just a boy and having the best times of my life at Grandma’s house—climbing the apple tree and doing cannonballs into the pool. However, life keeps moving forward into new beginnings. They are not always easy to accept at first, but you can embrace the lessons and treasure the memories.

Some new beginnings you have to create: for example, making your health a priority. I am just now working out and eating in a way that will help me to last longer in life. As my brother Ben puts it, “You have to start living to last.”

Maybe a relationship didn’t work out or you’re single and wondering how to move forward and meet new people? A plan helps, but acting on a plan is better. The plan may not work out to your liking at first, but adjust your actions and plan. You can do that.  

New beginnings are about starting new chapters. And when you start a new chapter, it means you have to get closure on the old chapters. We don’t have to walk into new beginnings scared, but maybe encouraged. You can find encouragement from your friends and family to help you move forward. Will it be easy? I don’t know that it ever is, but it’s possible.  

Some new beginnings are just awesome from the get-go – maybe a new relationship, new job, new place, fresh start—you name it. You are bolting to the new beginning and that is awesome!

While we may not be able to control other people or certain circumstances, one thing is for sure, we can choose our attitude as we walk through the doorway of new beginnings. And that is the most important aspect of new beginnings—attitude.

What new beginning are you contemplating? Is there a loss you experienced that you could turn into an opportunity for a new beginning?

7 Ways to Adjust Your Sail After Change

This week, I endured a very unwelcome challenge. My boxer, Buddy, got dog sick (that was cheesy, sorry). He stopped eating, was lying around like a big lump of clay. Anyone on my team can attest to the fact that I was a wreck at first. I took him to the doggy ER!

I love the saying, “You can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sail.” I have to remind myself of it often.

Sidetracking a bit, here’s a fun story (click here) about a county commissioner in rural Georgia who was confronted with negative change and adjusted his sail. The problem he faced was too many people stealing road signs. What did he do? He renamed the signs with boring names so no one would want them.

Thing is, change happens everywhere and to everyone. The difference lies in your response.

When change happens, we usually want to lie down, eat too many potato chips, and blame the guy who cut us off in traffic—or whatever we can do to get the focus off of our misery. While this may help us for a bit, it doesn’t get us out there kicking again.

Dr. Harold Koenig, professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, states, “This whole life is about adapting to change. The person who is able to do that is going to be happier and healthier, and will function better if he can accept change, but also know when to stand up.”

So if the wind throws your boat off course to Bermuda when you mean to go to the Bahamas, what do you do? Adjust your sail, of course. Here are 7 tips to get you started:

1)Understand there is a season to grieve, but it must be balanced by forward action. Set limits on the amount of time each day that you will vent about your problem. Spend twice as much time taking action.

2)If you need deeper help, find a trusted friend or counselor to help you understand why you are stuck.

3)Write out a vision for your life, the way you want it to be. Refer to it daily. I like to post my goals on my mirror so I see them each morning when I floss.

4)Pay attention to your habits, and ask yourself if they align with the direction you want to go. Don’t question why you don’t have a good family life if you are inclined to stay up all night playing Pacman with your buddies.

5)Break out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to make excuses why you can’t call that recruiter today, or fix the leaky window, or clean up the dog hair on the back porch, but taking care of it and finding a solution will likely give you the boost you need to get you to your next goal.

6)Set goals that are attainable. Start small, with goals you can achieve soon, so that you build your confidence.

7)Encourage someone else. Sometimes the best way to get out of your own problems is to help someone out of hers.

What do you do to adjust to change? Post your comments below!

Okay, an update on Buddy… He’s all better, leaping around the house with his step sister,Winnie, bringing me the joy of a thousand seagulls, or something like that (I made that up).

Avoid the Monday heart attack

I sat swiveling in my chair trying to see how many times I could go around with just a few pushes. This is how I started my work day—drinking coffee and spinning in my chair with thoughts of, “I need a new job! The management here is not good, the stress is intense, and it’s just not a fun place to work.”

I was mid spin when my manager walked in and informed everyone that Bob (I won’t use his real name) wouldn’t be in for a few days—he had suffered a heart attack the night before.

My first thought was that poor guy.  Bob was in his late 40s trying to make it, pay the bills, take care of a family…the works. The sad truth is, Bob didn’t thrive in our workplace because it did not have a culture structured for thriving. Management wanted results, and they really didn’t value the people who created the results.

I honestly believe that Bob had a heart attack due to all the stress in his life and the fact that he didn’t like where he worked or the direction the company was going. You can argue the cause, but statistics indicate that more people have heart attacks on Monday than any other day of the week. I think this indicates that people are stressed over their work.

It’s really simple. Ask yourself these questions:

1.      Do you work in an organization that values results over the people who produce the results?

2.      Is your culture positive? Is there at least an effort to boost morale and positive spirit?

3.      When you leave work, does it take you a few hours to unwind?

4.      Do you frequently fantasize about doing something else?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be heading in a direction of stress manifesting itself in negative ways like:

1.      Not being able to sleep well.

2.     Reaching for carbs or sweets.

3.     Feeling overly fatigued.

4.     Acting grumpy towards others.

5.     Becoming over stimulated with coffee or caffeine products.

Stress at work can also manifest itself in other ways that are not healthy. So what can you do?

1.      Listen to something positive—audio books on the drive to work and home.

2.      Have a quote book by your desk, so if you feel your attitude going south, you can adjust it.

3.      Take a 20 minute walk at lunch.

4.      Take time to breathe deeply for two minutes throughout the day.

5.      Inquire if your company has a personal development library where you can check out positive books and audios. If not, suggest they start one. Everyone wants to be great. They just need a little help to get there.

There are a lot of things you can do to reduce workplace stress. But, the key is taking action before it takes a toll on your mind, body and spirit. That negative chain reaction seems to be going around as of late, and you don’t want to fall victim to it. I care about you and your well being, and I sure hope my words encourage you wherever you are and whatever you are going through.

p.s. Bob recovered, ended up losing his job due to cutbacks. However, the experience turned his negative into a positive. He was able to revaluate priorities, find a new position with a company that values people, and go home each night as a happy man to his loving wife and kids.

p.s.s. I got let go too…and I too turned my adversity into an opportunity. I am now an author and in-demand motivational speaker who happens to be hilarious and the world’s worst cook. I can motivate you, but if you ask me to cook…y’all better run for the hills!

What tips do you have for managing stress in the workplace? What are you going through right now?

How to Deal with Difficult Co-Workers…and What You Can Learn From Them

I get asked about the subject of difficult co-workers a lot, so I couldn’t resist publishing this article sent to me by Jill Cook-Richards. I hope it helps! -Sam Glenn

No matter where you’re currently employed, you likely have to deal with a few difficult co-workers on a regular basis. Whether these people test your nerves by being publicly hostile, gossiping behind your back, or being stubborn and unyielding to new ideas, they’re enough to make you want to quit. But in today’s economy, quitting any job is simply not an option. Therefore, your best bet is to learn not only how to get along with difficult people, but also to learn a few lessons from them.

Realize that no matter how difficult someone seems, working together harmoniously is possible. With a little self-reflection, understanding, and patience, you can get along with anyone. Following are a few suggestions for making difficult co-workers more bearable.

  • Understand the dynamics of business relationships.

Any workplace—from a highly formal and technical environment to a relaxed and close-knit company—ultimately becomes an extended family. That doesn’t mean you have to invite your co-workers over for holiday dinners. It simply means that people tend to extend their personal relationships from their family to their professional relationships. In other words, if someone has a problem with their mother or father, it’s probable they’ll have a problem with their male or female boss. If they’re in a family where siblings are jealous or competitive, or where they’re bullied by each other, that kind of relationship will develop with their co-workers. This phenomenon is called transference—whereby you transfer your personal relationships into the workplace. The best way to overcome this is to focus on your personal life and make it as good as it can be. Mend your personal relationships, talk out problems with parents or siblings, and get your home life in order. By doing this, you’ll be stronger to handle the work relationships and will start transferring your positive personal relationship aspects rather than the negative ones.

  • Keep your work relationships in perspective.

Whatever you do, don’t try to make friends in the workplace. Remember that you’re there to do a job, not to make friends. If you happen to work with someone you like and a friendship develops, that’s fine. But don’t force it or think you have to be friends with all your co-workers. If you can keep this concept in mind, you’ll be able to look at the relationship from a purely professional perspective and keep your emotions out of it. The more you can leave your emotions out of the workplace, the more peace of mind you will have there.

  • Commit to learning from every relationship.

Every difficult person you encounter in the workplace is actually helping you learn something you can use for your future. For example, suppose you have a boss who undermines your efforts or who berates you. You certainly don’t like being treated like that, so you make a mental note that when you’re in a leadership position you’ll never act like that. This is called learning by opposite. When someone is displaying a behavior you don’t like, you become more aware of what you want to do and who you want to become as you move up in the workplace. Learning by opposite is very powerful. So rather than let the difficult people frustrate you, see them as teachers who are helping to shape you into the person you want to become.

  • Take responsibility for the relationship.

If you’re having a problem with a difficult co-worker, stop and look at your role in the relationship. Are you playing the “two wrongs can make a right” game, where you do something that you know will set the person off just because he or she annoyed you recently? Remember that every relationship is a two-way street, so look at yourself and how you’re contributing to the difficult behavior. Remove yourself emotionally from the situation and concentrate on your own strengths so you can make the relationship less difficult. If the other person doesn’t change or still blatantly doesn’t like you, that’s okay. Stop caring what others think. The only thing that matters is what you think about the other person. If you don’t like the way you’re thinking about someone, then make some changes in your thinking and internal dialogue. In the end, the only person you can change is yourself.

  • Accept the relationship.

Face it…difficult relationships are a part of the business world. Therefore, don’t look for the elusive perfect workplace. It simply doesn’t exist. The best approach is to accept that people think differently, act differently, and respond to situations differently than you do. Then, do what you can to look at the other side of the fence. Get an understanding of the other person’s point of view or where they’re coming from. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them or like them. You just have to accept that they have a different way of handling stress or approaching situations. When you can make this mindset shift, you’ll be more patient, understanding, and forgiving of others…and they won’t seem as difficult anymore.

  • Ditch the difficulties

Remember, none of your co-workers were hired to please you. Each person was hired because they possess a certain skill and can do a certain job—not because they are friendly or easy to work with. As such, a few difficult ones are bound to be in the mix. So don’t quit your job because of your difficult co-workers or even a difficult boss. Chances are you’ll find the same kinds of difficult people in your new workplace anyway. Instead, work to ease the difficult relationship by focusing on yourself and your own mindset. When you make yourself the focus rather than the difficult co-worker, you diffuse the relationship and become both happier and more productive in all aspects of life.

How do you deal with negative coworkers? Post your response!

About the Author: Jill Cook-Richards is a Life Coach and Counselor. She consults business executives, health care professionals and educators.  She is a regular columnist for several magazines and has spoken at all types of companies, corporations, and associations such as UPS, and the Mayo Clinic. She has also worked in television, radio, and the movie industry. She is the author of the upcoming book “How to Heal Any Relationship from A to Z.” To reach Jill call (904)  396-4060 or email


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