The Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing with Difficult Coworkers

A job is so much more enjoyable when you like the people you work with.  Unfortunately, there’s usually a bad apple in every bunch, and sometimes that difficult coworker can make your job more difficult.  From Chatty Cathy’s to White-Collar Bullies, there are lots of personality types that can cause conflict in the workplace.  But there is something you can do about it.  Here are 5 do’s and don’ts that will help you deal with difficult coworkers:

1. Do examine yourself.  First and foremost, examine yourself.  Do you often experience difficulty with coworkers?  Are you struggling with individuals that no one else has taken issue with? If you find that you are constantly butting heads with colleagues, then it’s a good idea to do some reflection and determine if you are the common denominator in these situations.  If you are, it’s time to work through some personal issues that may be causing the conflict.

2. Don’t gossip. Avoid gossiping at all costs; complaining to your colleagues about the individual won’t make things any better.  All it does is generate negative energy that will cause your bad feelings to build.  And the last thing you want is for your nemesis to catch wind of your water cooler moments and then use them against you.

3. Don’t avoid the problem. There are lots of ways to deal with a difficult coworker; the important thing to remember is that you must deal with it.  We promise that ignoring the problem will never make it disappear.  As unfortunate as the situation may be, you will have to address it in order to resolve the problem.  But that requires some forethought.  First consider the following:  Is the coworker approachable?  Does your employer have a conflict resolution process in place?  Is this issue less about the coworker and more about you standing up for yourself?  Once you pinpoint the actual problem and potential approaches you’ll be better prepared to actually resolve it.

4. Do involve others, if necessary. If you’ve approached this coworker with little effect and find that their behavior continues to impede your work, you may have to involve your supervisor.  Again as difficult as it may be, you must avoid emotion when discussing this coworker; also steer clear of derogatory descriptions of their troubling behavior.  As much as possible, base your discussion on succinct, factual descriptions.

5. Don’t expect poor treatment. Regardless of what happens, you should never come to expect poor treatment.  If a coworker continues to abuse or mistreat you, there may come a time when you must file a complaint or quit your job; no position is worth enduring a negative work environment.

Your relationships with coworkers can make your job a joy, or it can make it miserable.  When you find yourself struggling with a colleague, it is important to address the situation immediately rather than waiting to see if it goes away.  Using these 5 tips you should quickly come to an understanding of how to better deal with difficult coworkers.

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