Relentlessly Difficult People at Work

If you are daily dealing with people who fit these high conflict criteria, you are likely dealing with a "Hijackal®*", maybe even a resulting high conflict environment.

How do you recognize them? They: 

  • usually want things their way.
  • want to be the center of attention in most things in order to fulfill their unmet emotional needs.
  • avoid taking responsibility for their own problems, and especially not for any part they might play in the problems of others.
  • will go to great lengths to get you to agree with their rigid point of view or perspective.
  • will not take in, reflect on, or welcome any feedback or input from you, no matter how truthful, factual or accurate.
  • keep themselves stressed with their internal conflict, and that spills over on to you and the children.
  • are always looking for someone to blame for everything. It is never their fault or their doings that cause problems.
  • And, they honestly are unaware of most of these things and confused when you point them out! 

Chronically difficult people at work hijack your peaceful existence and dance on your nerves. They can leave you feeling confused, trapped and run ragged. That's why Dr. Shaler coined the term, "Hijackals" in her books, The Hijackal Trap and Escaping the Hijackal Trap:

*Hijackals are people who hijack relationships for their own purposes, and scavenge them for power, status, and control. 

Hijackals create high conflict situations where they take no responsibility for their decisions, words or actions.

They can do this with each person they work with, except for folks who are passive, invisible and easily manipulated. 

If you are not passive or easily manipulated, you may well have daily issues with the high conflict person.  One thing for sure: chronically difficult people will keep co-workers vigilant, looking over their shoulders for trouble, upset and suffering from additional stress! They all too often get their own way because people don't want to deal with them. They sidestep them, agree with them, or work around them to avoid confrontations. All too often, they are promoted vertically or laterally just to get rid of them. That's dangerous to the organization!


Dealing with chronically difficult people at work, or as Dr. Shaler calls it, "Hijackal Handling" tarts with learning how to recognize their traits and patterns. That's essential.  Otherwise, you will take what they do and say personally, and constantly be taking things on emotionally that actually have nothing to do with who you are!

You may think that, if only you could figure out what you are doing wrong, the other person would be happy. But, NO, that's not the way this works.

It is likely that there is nothing you are doing that is "wrong" at all. It simply doesn't sync with what the high conflict person perceives, sees or wants. That's what makes it 'wrong', in their eyes. 

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor, facilitates, negotiates and mediates relationships, providing the skills, insights, strategies, solutions and support to live with, work with, or co-parent with high conflict people.  She is an experienced trainer, negotiator and mediator who has worked with executives, staffs and teams to improve communication, reduce and manage conflict, and re-establish good working relationships. She also teaches negotiation at the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the  University of Texas at Dallas.
You can work with her privately, in-person or through Zoom video, or bring her to work with your team.

Talk with Dr. Shaler today online or in-person.  She is based in San Diego CA.  at For Relationship Help,  760.593.4604

DISCLAIMER:  If your CEO or manager is one of the chronically difficult people at work --a person with many definable traits of what is clinically called a 'high conflict personality', and you love your job,  the best thing you can do is to immediately learn the skills and strategies available here to avoid the many pitfalls set for you in that relationship.  Otherwise, you may find the stress is just too high a price to pay!


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