5 Fundamental Tips for How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers
How to deal with difficult co-workers is a hard question to address. Pretty much every job has a co-worker that is difficult to deal with in some varying degrees of severity.
Many times, difficult co-workers tend to be more annoying than anything else.
From experience, it can be easier to deal with and handle a difficult coworker if you are not the only causality of their poor behavior.
Since it’s not feasible to quit a job or transfer whenever you run into difficult co-workers (side note you will always have co-workers like this), you must learn how to deal with them. Here are some tips to help you deal with difficult co-workers.
1. Stay Cool and Think of your Personal Brand
In the heat of our interactions with difficult co-workers, your initial reaction might be to lose your cool. Not a good idea because you will more likely than not look bad. Instead, I encourage you to think about your personal brand. Your personal brand is a reflection of what people think about when your name comes up.
Are people going to think of someone who stayed cool during work adversity or will they think about someone who lost their cool at work?
Long-term the narrative won’t be you yelled or cussed out a coworker who was being very difficult. It will probably just be you screamed and cussed out a coworker.
Even if you might think it’s warranted very rarely is yelling or “cussing out” a fellow employee a good idea. It’s not conducive to managing your personal brand. Like a bully, some people like to get a reaction from others. Be above it!
2. See Who Else is Affected
Are you the only one targeted by this problematic co-worker? Are other people affected? If so how long has it been going on? Knowing these questions will help identify an appropriate approach.
If it impacts multiple people, you might be able to band together and have an intervention or escalate it through the proper chain of command. The more people voicing disapproval of this employee the more seriously administration will take it, and it would also elicit a quicker response.
3. Confront the Difficult Co-worker
When dealing with difficult co-workers sometimes you must confront them.
Once again, this doesn’t mean start yelling or trying to “cuss somebody out.” Try to have a calm dialogue with the disgruntled coworker. If the difficult coworker takes on a less than pleasant attitude you can end the exchange, but you must remain calm.
This difficult coworker might not have known their actions were causing problems for other people. Everybody goes through hard life circumstances at times, and while it is not an excuse for poor actions/attitudes some people need a reminder because he or she might genuinely not know how his or her actions affect others.
Even if talking to them doesn’t change their actions it could change your perspective about the situation.
4. Kill Them with kindness
When trying to figure out how to deal with difficult co-workers “kill them with kindness” might seem counter-intuitive to what you probably really want to do. Don’t be a pushover, but it might be best to avoid adding gasoline to the fire.
If you are pleasant and respectful to them, it might inspire some attitude change on their part.
Even if it doesn’t, you should still be cordial and courteous to them. People will remember how unpleasant the problematic coworker was, but unfortunately, they will also not forget how nasty you were to them. Amid the difficulty, you want to keep in mind your personal nurse brand you created.
5. Build Rapport
When dealing with difficult co-workers at times it's because you haven't built a rapport with them. Some relationships take time and effort to build. Engage the difficult co-worker and see if that doesn't change something.
What are other ways to deal with difficult coworkers?
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