Often, there are people in corporate settings who love to deem others “difficult” in a way to regard them as someone who is not the best employee. They don’t say this about themselves but instead quickly label others and can even plant seeds for others to sprout this belief without really knowing the people they are dealing with. In my experience, this speaks more to the accuser's inability to function and manage other personalities that are not like theirs than it does to the person they are dealing with. When touting diversity, we would be neglectful to disregard diversity of thought and behavior yet most do.
One thing we as people have a tendency to do is throw around adjectives about people, places, or things without thinking about how the usage of the word could be taken into consideration. The word difficult means needing much effort or skill to accomplish, deal with or understand according to our friend Google. How does that translate to people? Does it mean that people are too lazy to put any effort or skill into dealing with or understanding others? Or does this simply mean that people use the word itself too much and they mean something else?
Putting this label on someone because they won’t do things your way is often how this is used in the workplace. Perhaps they make you follow rules, or enforce the rules that are already in place. Maybe they want to know information before adhering to a whim because you’ve decided that is what you want to do to win the sale or get something off your plate.
Though not at all exclusive to any one group, there are certainly some groups who have been described as difficult more than others. I am not a big fan of having a lot of conversation about my personal life in the workplace outside of a brief reference to my kids in the workplace. Some don’t like that and consider it standoffish, which can translate to “difficult.” People should consider that many can’t afford to NOT follow the rules because they are already under a watchful eye due to their status in life and it is arrogant to think they should.
By suggesting a person go against policy to make your work life easier tells the other person you don’t care if they get fired as long as you don’t. It says you have no regard for them and what they could potentially be responsible for such as their kids, spouse, home, parents etc. It says you are so much into “self “that nothing but you matters. Granted sometimes the rules don’t seem like they are fair but when you work for a company you get to choose to work there so you have to work within the parameters of what the company has put in place or otherwise go through the proper channels to make a business case to get the rules changed if possible.
When I work with clients, one of the things we work through is vocabulary exchange. I believe if people had a better grasp of the over 171,000 words in the English language, they’d be better at communicating what they want others to hear and what they themselves heard. So before you label someone difficult again, ask yourself what it is that makes them difficult and why that is their problem vs yours.