Developing Your Career

How to Avoid Being Branded “Difficult”

By Greg Simpson on May 30, 2012

At some point in our careers, we’ve all had the unfortunate experience of working with a difficult colleague.  We’ve seen firsthand the challenges this situation can pose within a team.  But have you considered whether you’re the difficult one?

In her Washington Post blog, “Is Your Style Causing Problems for You?,” Joyce E. A. Russell says the problems “usually come down to two factors — performance or personality.”  According to Russell, the key offenders include colleagues who are any of the following: abrasive, tactless, domineering, condescending, resistant to change, undependable, moody or poor communicators. 

HR professionals and hiring managers carefully screen applicants in an effort to expose these undesirable traits before bringing someone onboard.  When conducting a job search, consider how you might be projecting the ‘performance and personality’ companies want to hire:

  • Describe real work experiences that illustrate your cooperation, communication, and commitment to deadlines rather than just stating you’re a “team player.”
  • Maintain a positive attitude.  Never air complaints about your former boss or employer during an interview.
  • Show enthusiasm for new technologies as well as continuing your education and learning new skills.  This helps to demonstrate your ability to adapt and thrive during change.
  • Smile!  This simple gesture demonstrates an upbeat, friendly demeanor and will raise your likability factor. 

Throughout your career and job search, you want to be seen as someone co-workers would look forward to seeing every day, not as someone who could be a divisive force in the workplace.  Portray yourself as a force for good –  not an obstacle to team success.


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