Dealing with a Difficult Coworker

Different kinds of people exist in your workplace, and you more likely do not gel with some of your colleagues. There are different kinds of difficult people whom you may not work well with, from the people who talk constantly yet never listen, those who insist on having the last word, those who fail to keep commitments, perennial critics among others. Some even go to the extent of courting your boss’ positive opinion to your disadvantage.

Some difficult co-workers may just be that: hard to work with. However, there are those who see you as competition, and in order for them to gain power, privilege, and spotlight, they simply find ways to keep you from performing well. Hard as it may be, but you do need to try your best to deal with difficult colleagues. Why? If you leave it unaddressed, the situation usually gets worse.

How you deal with a difficult co-worker would depend on your self-esteem, your professional courage, and how "tough" and "obnoxious" your colleague is towards other people. Who you may have thought as obnoxious at first may just be putting on a defense system and you need to gain his or her trust in order to deal with that person better.

Examine yourself

You need to take a self-reflection and determine if the other person is really the problem, and not that you are overreacting. Are you sure that you are not the only one who is having difficulty working with that colleague?

Talk to a trusted colleague if things go worse

Assess your options with a trusted friend or colleague. Dealing with this problem hastily, and usually angrily, would only make things worse.

Approach that difficult colleague for a private discussion

Be pleasant and agreeable as you talk your issues with the other person. They may not be aware that their words and actions towards you have an impact. On the other hand, they may know their impact on you and deny it or try to explain it away. Attempt to reach an agreement, even though most difficult co-workers just do not care about this issue.

Follow it up

After the initial discussion, observe whether that worker has his or her behavior changed or at least has gotten better. If things go on the same, or much worse, perhaps you need a follow-up discussion. You need to determine whether this follow-up would have an impact.

Confront your difficult co-worker’s behavior publicly

Deal with the situation with gentle humor or slight sarcasm. You can also tell that difficult colleague that you would like them to consider important history in their decision making. This tactic works well for those who are naturally humorous.

Have others involved

Do thing procedure if things do not go any better. Prepare to talk with your boss. Take notes and address the issue as something that affects your productivity, not as an interpersonal problem. If things go well, your boss would bring your difficult co-worker and his supervisor into a discussion regarding the matter.

Try to rally other employees who might have an issue with the difficult person

There are some instances that a group approach convinces the boss that the impact of your co-workers behavior is wider and deeper than originally determined. However, you need to be careful with this approach, as you want to solve your problem and not make it look as if you are ganging up on another employee.

If this approach fails, limit your contact with that person

Avoid working with the person when possible, all while trying your best to be productive in the company. Choose projects that he or she would not have an impact. If you belong to the same department or team with that person, consider applying for a job transfer within your organization.

If all else fails, you can quit your job

Why stay on a job, no matter how you like it, if it only leaves you unhappy and unsuccessful? You need to decide whether the good in your current situation outweighs the bad.

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