Online Class: How to Deal with Difficult Personalities

In our online course Dealing with Difficult People, students will learn to identify various types of difficult personalities and address conflict before it begins to chip away at their well-being and job satisfaction.

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  • 11
  • 13
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  • 7,017
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  • 7
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Course Description

Mastering Workplace Dynamics: Navigating Complex Personalities with Poise

The modern workplace can be a melting pot of personalities, some harmonious and others challenging. Encountering difficult or toxic individuals is an unfortunate reality for many professionals. Such interactions can take a toll, affecting mental well-being, job performance, and overall satisfaction. When the challenging individual occupies the office next door or, even more dauntingly, is in a position of authority over you, the pressure intensifies. However, with the right knowledge and tools, one can navigate these treacherous waters with confidence and skill.

Understanding, confronting, and effectively managing difficult personalities is not just about conflict resolution—it’s about preserving your peace, ensuring your rights, and maintaining a productive work environment. Our comprehensive course offers guidance on mastering these very aspects, equipping you to handle complex workplace dynamics.

Course Highlights:

  • Recognizing Difficult Personalities: Understand and categorize various challenging behaviors you might encounter, from the overtly aggressive to the subtly undermining.

  • Your Rights in the Workplace: A foundational overview of your rights as an employee. This segment will empower you to distinguish between acceptable workplace behavior and what crosses the line.

  • Stress Management: Techniques to handle on-the-job pressures and maintain a balanced mental state, ensuring that external negativity doesn't erode your inner peace.

  • Establishing Boundaries: Learn to assertively define your personal and professional boundaries, ensuring mutual respect between you and your colleagues.

  • Effective Collaboration: Delve into methods that promote harmonious team dynamics, even when working with challenging personalities.

  • Conflict Resolution: Acquire actionable strategies to resolve disputes and misunderstandings before they escalate, preserving workplace morale.

  • Decoding Body Language: Enhance your ability to read non-verbal cues, a skill invaluable in gauging unspoken intentions and sentiments.

  • Handling Aggression: Strategies and tools to defuse aggressive behavior and ensure your safety and dignity.

  • Dealing with Critics and Power Dynamics: Equip yourself with techniques to manage those who constantly criticize or display overt power-seeking tendencies.

  • Managing the Unproductive: Addressing the “slackers” and those who drain team energy, ensuring consistent productivity.

  • Avoiding Office Gossip: Navigate away from unhealthy workplace gossip and its repercussions, promoting a culture of positivity.

  • Gender Dynamics in the Workplace: Understanding the nuances of gender interactions and ensuring an environment of equality and respect.

  • Confronting Prejudice: Tactics and approaches to handle instances of prejudice, ensuring that biases, in any form, are addressed and eradicated.

  • Standing up to Authoritative Figures: Courageously and respectfully asserting yourself when confronted with a bullying boss or superior.

Course Impact:

Engaging with this course will not just impart knowledge, but it will empower you. You'll be better positioned to foster healthy interactions, confront issues with tact and confidence, and ensure that your work environment remains positive and productive. You don’t have to be a silent sufferer of negative workplace dynamics. Equip yourself with the skills to champion not just for your rights, but also for a healthier, happier workplace for all.

In today’s ever-evolving workplace, the ability to handle complex personalities and situations is not just a skill, but a necessity. Register today and invest in not just your professional growth, but also your peace of mind. Let this course be your comprehensive guide to mastering the intricate dance of workplace dynamics.

Course Motivation

Despite the bevy of technological advancements designed to save us time and the popular concept of "work-life balance" - - many of us are spending more time on the job than ever before, and in many workplaces, overtime has become the norm.
Many people feel that they see more of their fellow employees than they do of their own families - - and if one or more of those co-workers has a difficult personality, it can sometimes cause stress levels to skyrocket. In fact, dealing with a difficult or toxic personality can be damaging both emotionally and physically, particularly if the person is your boss or sitting in the cubicle right next to you. Confronting those who compromise your comfort and job security can be challenging, but standing up for yourself is essential in the workplace.

If you can't stop thinking about a problem with someone at work -- be it a bullying boss, a subversive coworker, or a sexist client -- it's important to know that you can take control of the situation. This class will allow you to explore what feeds these kinds of behaviors, ways to address these situations, and when to call for outside assistance. 

You'll learn to identify various types of difficult personalities and address conflict, hopefully before it begins to chip away at your well-being and job satisfaction. By the conclusion of the course, you will have increased your ability to handle aggressive, manipulative, undermining, prejudiced, or otherwise difficult behavior.

But first things first, let's start with an overview of your rights in the workplace. 

All employees have basic rights in the workplace -- including the right to privacy, fair compensation, and freedom from sexual harassment and discrimination based on age, gender, race, national origin, or religion. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Act gives you the right to have a safe and hazard-free workplace.

Good to Know

Your right to privacy applies to your personal possessions, like your handbag, briefcase, storage locker, and private mail addressed to you. However, the right to privacy is widely thought to be the most commonly violated principle in the workplace. Additionally, employers can, and often do, legally monitor information that many of us might assume is protected by our right to privacy --  particularly electronic information such as email, web history, and even keystrokes. Employers also frequently monitor numbers dialed, call duration, and/or tape conversations. Your employer also has the right to use surveillance cameras to monitor employee behavior. The bottom line: Take steps to protect your private information.

Now that you're aware of the absolute minimum that you should expect from your work environment, here are a few ideas that may prevent or diffuse workplace problems before they spiral into major issues. 

Create a Safe Space
Once you set foot into your place of work, you're on someone else's turf, but no matter how chaotic your workplace, take steps to create your own calm within the storm. Whether you work out of a corner office, a tiny cubicle or in an environment where the only spot you can claim as your own is a chair in the break room, designate a place where you go to disconnect from the energy of the rest of the workplace.

Bring your favorite kind of tea to work instead of drinking whatever they've stocked the kitchen area with. Keep healthy snacks at your desk to keep you going in case a problem holds you up at work. If you find the noise of your co-workers distracting, keep earplugs on hand, or invest in a pair of noise canceling headphones, like those made by Bose -- if it's considered acceptable in your place of work to do so.

These are small things, but they can all help keep you connected to yourself. Sometimes keeping a single photograph of someone you love at your desk can be the thing that keeps you from cracking at a difficult moment. It can help you keep things in perspective: There are things in your life far more important than whatever is wrong in this moment.

De-stress and Regenerate
Most people are so used to sitting at their desks that they've stopped noticing their slumped posture, their shallow breathing and compromised circulation. It's essential to stand up and walk around at least once every half hour to prevent the blood clots and stiffness that have become very common among middle-aged computer users. Take deep breaths to restore energy levels and a sense of wellbeing. Keep water on hand and sip on it throughout the day. Staying well hydrated can be as energy-boosting as coffee or tea.

If it's nice outside, make sure to take at least a few minutes out of the day and take a walk around the block, or eat in the courtyard. Take at least a small amount of time out of the day to separate yourself completely from your job - - read a book or make a quick call to say hello to a friend or loved one. Other ways to feel your best at work:

  • Create a morning pre-work ritual, like meditation, stretching or reading, that will set a relaxed tone for the rest of the day.
  • Eat breakfast, limit caffeine intake and eat healthier, lighter foods during the day.
  • Exercise every day, if possible.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Seek gratification outside of your job by maintaining your hobbies and interests outside of work.
  • Take a two-day getaway break to do what restores and energizes you – and not just on the weekends.
  • Take your vacation time, and use it to get out of town and enjoy yourself. Reserve those days on your calendar as far in advance as possible.
  • Don't stay late or take work home every night. All of the self-help books are right: You will regret making work your whole life. Look around at your coworkers who seem to have done so. Do they look happy to you? They key is to work smart, not just hard. If you're having trouble juggling your workload, make sure you are prioritizing the most important tasks first. Take a course or read a book on time management and put that advice into action.
Establish Boundaries
Developing positive, fun relationships with people on the job can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your professional life, but if you want to be respected and treated well, you must establish and maintain boundaries with your boss and co-workers.

Assume that anything you say or do, including at the office happy hour, will be subject to discussion by anyone and everyone at the company. Do not disclose any information or behave in a way that you feel could be used to damage your reputation and potential for career advancement. It's almost always in your best interest to leave your personal life at the door. Don't treat your boss like a surrogate father. Don't tell everyone about your breakup. Don't make doctor's appointments or personal calls at your desk. If you have to ask yourself, "Should I talk about this at work?" you probably shouldn't.

If someone crosses a boundary with you, by speaking to you disrespectfully, asking you overly personal questions, touching you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or not upholding your rights in the workplace, you must address it immediately, clearly, calmly, and directly. This can be a very difficult thing to do -- so start practicing now. Dr. Phil made this line famous, but it's not a new idea: You teach people how to treat you. Demonstrate a level of self-respect, and it's far less likely that you will be disrespected.

If a situation arises in which you feel as if you cannot remain calm, or if the person continues to behave in an aggressive manner, make it clear that you won't tolerate the behavior, and walk away. Address the situation when you are both feeling calmer, or if you feel it is necessary, bring in another party to mediate the situation.

Champion Respectful Interaction and Collaboration

Carry your own weight when collaborating on a project. Make a point to be respectful of your co-workers and promote a positive working environment. Don't join the gossip mill or contribute to negative energy circulating in the office. Don't associate with those who are disrespectful to other people. If someone is being bullied or disrespected in your presence, tell the bully that they're making you feel uncomfortable. Some people bully others to show off, just like on the playground at school. Don't let those people think that you are impressed. Most likely, if you call them out, they'll be embarrassed and stop.

Being aware of your rights and establishing boundaries in the workplace can prevent a great deal of in-office conflict, and when conflict does arise -- you'll be in a much better position to resolve it.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.3 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(5,704 votes)

Lesson 1 : Course Introduction

Dealing with a difficult or toxic personality can be damaging both emotionally and physically, particularly if the person is your boss or sitting in the cubicle right next to you. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Difficult People; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Assessment: Lesson 1: Course Introduction

Lesson 2 : Basic Conflict Resolution

This lesson may be a review of what you learned in grade school, but some grown-ups don't play by the rules. In the midst of dealing with a difficult person, it's easy to forget the fundamentals of conflict resolution. Additional lesson topics: Basic Conflict Resolution Strategies 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 2: Basic Conflict Resolution

Lesson 3: Understanding Body Language

The messages conveyed by their body language are known as subtext, a term that is often used in the acting world to describe the underlying meaning of what is being said. Additional lesson topics: Using Body Language 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 3: Understanding Body Language

Lesson 4: Bullies

Garnering a reputation for being a jerk breeds the contempt and mistrust of others, and has been shown to diminish chances for pay raises and promotions. 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 4: Bullies

Lesson 5: Power Struggles: Handling Critics, Rivals, and Power Freaks

This lesson identifies a few categories of difficult people who all have one thing in common. They are in pursuit of, you guessed it, power. 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Rivalry
  • Assessment: Lesson 5: Power Struggles: Handling Critics, Rivals and Power Freaks With Panache

Lesson 6: Slackers and Energy Vampires

Not only has slacking been labeled by many news stories as a workplace epidemic, there are numerous articles that attempt to illustrate the very little risk involved in turning in a below average performance. 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 6: Slackers and Energy Vampires

Lesson 7: Office Gossip

Office gossip can be immensely damaging to productivity and morale, and obviously, no one likes to be gossiped about. 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 7: Gossip Girls (and Guys)

Lesson 8: Problematic Personalities

Some people are just hard to deal with. In this lesson we'll discuss several types of troublesome behavior and ways to address them without ruining your day. 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 8: Problematic Personalities

Lesson 9: When Men and Women Collide: Gender Differences in the Workplace

In this lesson, we'll discuss some common differences in the communication styles of men and women, and ways to address conflict that may arise from these differences. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 9: When Men and Women Collide: Gender Differences In The Workplace

Lesson 10: When The Bully Is Your Boss

Many bosses fall into the category of power freaks. Whether the impulse to micro-manage and control is manifested in aggressive or passive-aggressive ways, a power freak boss can often leave you feeling stressed and walking on eggshells. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 10: When The Bully Is Your Boss

Lesson 11: Successful Collaboration

This lesson will explore some of the keys to effective collaboration. Developing solutions as a team can sometimes be as difficult for adults as sharing a toy box is for a group of kids. 64 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Collaboration; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Assessment: Lesson 11: Successful Collaboration
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe basic conflict resolution processes.
  • Evaluate body language.
  • Identify bullies.
  • Recognize power struggles.
  • Describe and identify slackers and energy vampires.
  • Recognize office gossip and its effects on the workplace.
  • Recognize and reconcile problematic personalities.
  • Describe methods for dealing with a bully as a boss.
  • Describe benefits of successful collaboration.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: How to Deal with Difficult Personalities
Course Number: 7550249
Lessons Rating: 4.3 / 5 Stars (5,704 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: November 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.7 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: UniversalClass Instructional Team
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "Learning how to deal with difficulty personalities in the workplace is important because it teaches us coping mechanisms on how to handle them. For example, a novice worker can easily be swayed into a group of gossiping workers or be in a harmful situation by becoming a victim of bullying. Often we do not learn these defense techniques until much later in our working life. I would recommend this course be taught even earlier perhaps in secondary education before someone enters the workplace. Thank you!" -- Amanda H.
  • "I really appreciated this course! It was a good reminder of how to treat others in the workplace and how I want to be treated. It gave me some good pointers on how to deal with difficult people as well as not being one myself. Thank you!" -- Penny C.
  • "I thought this course was extremely useful, helpful and insightful and it has given me the tools I need if bullying at work ever happens again. Thank you." -- Suzanne D.
  • "I like this instructor very much. Gets to the point with easy to understand options on how to handle different situations. Good examples." -- Robin F.
  • "A lot of this material I already knew about just from being in the work force for so many years. However, the teacher introduced some new coping techniques that never occurred to me, and I am grateful for that." -- Gretchen T.
  • "I think the course was well thought out, easy to follow, and very informative and nicely broken into down into lessons." -- Cheryl E.
  • "I am really please with this course. This course made me realize just how much I have been a victim of bullying in the workplace." -- April M.
  • "I very much respect this instructor. I've taken several classes by him and I find him to be very knowledgeable and organizes his lessons in a way that makes sense." -- Brianna O.
  • "This was a great class that provides you with invaluable skills and tools to better deal with people that are difficult. I liked the instructor and she had all assignments and examsgraded in a ttimely fashion." -- Megan M.
  • "I thought the variety of activities and resources presented throughout each lesson made the course very interesting. I used the supplemental materials and these were also quite helpful." -- Beth M.
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