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Ten steps to managing difficult relationships at work

Take responsibility: recognise that managing a relationship is a two-way process and that both parties need to accept a role in improving the situation.

Develop self-awareness: explore your own personality traits, define what your priorities are and understand what values are important to you.

Know your colleague: try and understand the other person's personality, values and priorities.

Recognise the differences: while you may do an excellent job your colleague may see you as obsessive and a perfectionist. Identifying where your personalities, priorities and values differ is crucial to understanding where difficulties arise.

Keep your cool: be aware of your emotional and physiological responses to stress. Try and remain professional by taking a calm, collected and logical approach.

Face problems: suggest a time and place to discuss the issues. Meet in private and avoid times of obvious stress.

Avoid confrontation: approach the discussion in a collaborative, adult way and aim to reach an outcome that benefits both parties. If dealing with a junior member of staff, agree clear and explicit performance improvement measures.

Develop your self-confidence and emotional resilience: believe in yourself and try not to take knocks personally.

Look long term: behaviours do not change overnight, so be patient.

If all else fails: if the situation does not improve, consider moving job or company

but learn actively from the experience. If dealing with a subordinate, issue the appropriate verbal and then written warnings, in accordance with employment law. If this fails, bite the bullet and dismiss the individual.

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