In some ways, the easiest thing to do when you are dealing with difficult people at work is to respond on the defensive. If someone is shouting at you, written you a rude email, made a complaint about you, you could defer to retreating into a corner, apologising, writing a lengthy response justifying your actions/positions, but why not try a different tactic?
An alternative option is to “kill them with kindness”. By this we mean, when someone at work is unpleasant, be overly nice in response – “thanks so much for your email”, “hope you have had a great weekend”, “I really appreciate and value your feedback” etc. It is surprising but often we have found it helps – people can get thrown a little off guard by it and at the very least will feel a little guilty for being so rude when they get such a pleasant response in return!
We can’t guarantee you will win over everyone – some characters at work are just difficult and unpleasant unfortunately and always will be! However, you will be taking the higher ground and not further exacerbating the issue (and you may well help resolve the situation and improve the relationship).
So next time someone is rude to you at work, why not be like Michelle Obama and remember “when they go low, we go high”.