How do you deal with difficult employees?
Hey, what's up, everyone? My name is Gabriel Klingman.
I'm the co-founder of Finding Leadership Within. Today, that is the question that we are going to
answer. If you've been in the workforce for any amount of time, it's a guarantee that you've
experienced employees who are nagging, who gossip, who complain, who won't listen and won't do
what's required for the job. If you've experienced this than you have experienced a difficult employee.
And so what is our natural reaction to this? We're often rude. We're rash. We're short with them. Or we
go into wanting to have extremes where we have a blow up at them or we try and avoid them at all
costs. And in this video, I'm going to show you an alternative. I'm going to show you a healthy
alternative. You no longer have to fall into this camp when we blow up or when we avoid our
employees or avoid these difficult situations what we're actually doing is reacting to internal stimuli
rather than the external.
So let me explain this before every action happens. There's a process that takes place in this. At least
half of this is subconscious. We're not even consciously aware that this is what's happening. But
when I dissect it, it'll make perfect sense. So you have first you have stimuli, whether that's internal or
external. It's something that triggers an event. It's whatever happens. In this case, it could be a
employee making a comment.
That could be nagging or complaining or gossiping. They make some sort of comment. The second
thing that happens is meaning is attributed to that stimuli. So as humans, we are always looking to
interpret whatever's happening around us. Our mind is always looking and looking at this thing. "What
does that mean?" And looking at this as "what does that mean?" Always 24/7. So when the stimuli
happens, our mind instantly tries to interpret it.
However, the problem with that is we often take shortcuts. Our mind will take shortcuts and interpret
external stimuli. With our past experience and internal stimuli, which I'll get to in a second. So once
something happens - a stimuli happens - then we've interpreted it. We've created meaning out of that
stimuli. Then comes emotion. We emotionally react to that meaning. Right. We're not reacting to the
stimulus, to whatever happened or reacting to the meaning that we've attributed to the stimulus.
So and then the final thing is action. We act out of that emotion. So let me. That's the whole process.
Let me explain what this looks like very practically. Someone makes a comment. Coworker.
Employee. They may have come and they start gossiping about someone. Instantly, that could lead to
you having a rash or rude or short reaction to it.
Right now, the reasoning is there. Let's break this down. Let's see what happened. They made a
comment. Now, what happened is you heard that comment. That was a stimulus. You heard that, and
then you created meaning out of that. You said, OK, if they're making this comment about this
employee, maybe you've had that same comment made about you in the past. It's very common. This
is a very common reaction. And so then your emotion is stirred and you're no longer reacting to the
fact that they made this comment about someone else.
You're reacting as if that was made about you. You're reacting to the internal stimuli. And then your
action comes as if this was made about you rather than made about the actual person it was. So
you're reacting to an internal stimuli as opposed to an external stimuli. Two of the most common
frustrating meanings attributed to stimuli are often disrespect or "I'm not enough". This feeling that a
feeling of being disrespected or feeling that you aren't enough. Personally, here's a good example for
For years I have never known how to react to gossip. Hence this video. I for years I managed
employees for years. I managed millennials. People who like to talk, who like the gossip food service
industry is made out of gossip. Right. And for years I didn't know how to handle that. Whenever
someone would gossip, my entire body would just cringe up. And I just felt horrible. And I could never
understand why it was so difficult for me to confront someone on that.
And like I could confront them on thousand other things all day long. Poor performance, attitude
doesn't matter. But when it comes to gossip, that was that was really difficult, really twisted for me. I
get all... And I realized after going through this process, I realized that it's because as a kid, I was
always told... "good boys, behave. Good boys, don't say bad things about other people. Good boys
don't talk about people behind their back."
And so for me, I wanted to be a good boy, right? I wanted to be good. This is probably my parents
trying to get me out of doing something stupid. Right. So they tell me this. And for years, this has
been ingrained in my mind. And so when I hear someone gossiping, what's going on is, oh, my God,
they're not being good. They're not being good people. Oh, my God.
What do I do? I don't know how to handle that situation. So what do we do about this? Well, I'm going
to give you three steps, three steps to help. The first is to be present. It's still in the moment when you
start to feel frustrated, when you start to feel whatever you're feeling. Take a breath and count
backwards from five. Go five, four, three, two, one.
Just that process. So simple, so quick. Resets your brain right when we're in the moment. Our brain
tends to just keep running on autopilot. We just keep going and going. So the second you start to feel
Your brain is like, oh, I felt this before and runs down that path. So when you take that second, you
breathe and you count backwards to five and you just focus on five, four, three, two, one. What you're
actually doing is disrupting that path. You're keeping your brain from running down this path and
saying, no, I'm not going to automatically react. I'm going to take a second. I'm going to recenter and
then re-evaluate where to go from here.
The second thing you can do is observe your feelings. There's two questions you want to ask and
then one observation to make. So the first question is, "what are the feelings that I'm feeling?" What
are the feelings that I'm feeling? Are there pictures associated with this? Are there words? Are there
sounds? What is it that I'm feeling? The second is you want to ask, "why am I feeling this way?" Is this
feeling familiar? Have I felt this way in the past?
In which situations have I felt this way? Does this feeling match the current situation I'm in? And the
observation you want to make at this point is to realize that your reaction, the way you're feeling, is
very likely due to some past situation. Answered in the why am I feeling this way? Because like I said
before, when your brain starts, it just goes on autopilot. Someone makes a comment. You derive
meaning from that comment.
You have an emotional reaction to that meaning. And your brain goes on autopilot. And so your brain
is like, "oh, I've felt this way before. Oh, I felt this way before when so-and-so did this to me..." And
bam, you're then reacting out of THAT situation instead of reacting out of the situation in front of you.
And this is why so many people overreact, especially when dealing with difficult employees. Lord
knows I have.
And so what you want to do is remember that your first reaction, your initial gut reaction is likely due
to previous stimuli likely due to a previous situation. The third thing you can do is put yourself in their
shoes, right. Validate their feelings without validating their actions. They're allowed to feel however it
is they're feeling right there, and the way that they feel is because of their OWN internal dialogue,
they're feeling that way because their mind decide to race on its own path.
You're stopping your mind from reacting. They haven't done that. So they're reacting not usually not
because of a situation right in front of them, but because of how they've been treated in the past. So
they are allowed to feel however they are feeling so validate their feelings without validating their
actions. This is some tricky wordplay in each situation is different. But remember that you can do
that. You can say, hey, I'm so sorry that you feel that way.
Oh, I understand that you feel that way. How you acted is inappropriate. But I understand your
feelings. Having that conversation is very helpful.
Now, a fourth freebie I'm going to throw in here is to redirect. This one is really simple. Sometimes in
the heat of the moment, you're just like, I can't react. This is way too much. I can't calm myself to
actually react appropriately to this situation. So I'm just going to completely redirect and say, oh, look
at that squirrel and we're just going to go on a different topic. Sometimes that's necessary. And that is
absolutely OK to sum up here.
I want to say that if you want to improve on how you deal with difficult employees, improve how you
deal with your own internal turmoil. Now, the first thing you can do is to start being aware of the
feelings that you're having. Be aware of what you're feeling and then why you're feeling it and know
that reaction is likely to. Feeling from the past. Thank you so much for watching. If this was helpful,
just let me know in the comments and let me know after you've tried this how this is helpful for you.