This article suggests some strategies to deal effectively with difficult and challenging people in the workplace.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Business studies, careers, entrepreneurship

Key Questions to Explore:

  • How does one restrict negative intrusions by difficult and obnoxious people?

New Terminology:


Materials Needed:

  • Copies of the article for student use
Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

Throughout our careers we will face situations where it is necessary to deal with toxic people. Often the way we handle the situation can affect both our reputation and our likelihood of being considered for advancement. In addition, if we do not deal effectively with these people, they can have a negative impact on our lives, reducing our level of enjoyment and adding additional stress. This lesson will have the students reflect upon any situations they have experienced with these types of people and how they handled them. It will also have them consider the advice offered by the article and decide if these ideas will alter the way in which they interact with toxic people in the future.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Ask the students to take a moment and individually reflect upon a situation in which they had to deal with a very difficult person.
  • Have them now consider what they did to handle the situation and if that action was effective.
  • Divide the class into working groups of five or six students and have them, in turn, relate their experience to their group members.
  • Once they have completed this task have each group decide on one situation which their group will use to report back to the class as a whole.
  • Have each group provide their chosen experience.
  • Once this has been done have the groups discuss strategies that they think would be effective in dealing with these types of people.
  • Allow the groups time to discuss this and then have them report back to the class.
  • Once this has been done have the class as a whole decide on what they think are the best five suggestions of those presented.
  • At this point hand out the article and allow the students time to read it.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have the students individually compare the strategies in the article to the list they had chosen to see where there are similarities and/or additional information.
  • Hold a class discussion to get their feedback and revisit their top five picks to see if they would alter those.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • give examples of the way in which toxic people can cause difficulties.
  • offer strategies to deal effectively with difficult and challenging people.

Confirming Activity:

  • For homework have the students complete a short writing assignment in which they explain the strategies they would use in the future to address the challenges presented by obnoxious people.