How to deal with a difficult co-worker


A healthy work environment plays such an important role in our everyday lives, as we spend so much of our day interacting with co-workers. You may very well be a positive and easy-going individual, but that does not mean that you will get along with everyone at the office. Personalities may clash, or co-workers maybe just don’t see eye to eye. Whether you work in a big company or a small one, there always seems to be a co-worker who is difficult to deal with. Having to deal with conflict on a daily basis can affect your job performance and possibly your self-esteem, depending on the extent of the scenario. Don’t despair, there are some ways that can help you get along and defuse a situation so your work-life becomes easier and less stressful.

How to deal with a difficult co-worker

Assess the situation

Before jumping to any conclusions regarding the person that you’re having difficulty with, step back and try to understand what is happening. “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes” is a very wise saying that can be very relevant in many situations. Everyone is constantly dealing with their own personal stresses and this may affect the way they interact with others. By understanding where their behavior roots from you may have a better way of knowing how to deal with it. If your relationship is not a close one, then by simply acting calmly and non-confrontationally it will prevent a possible outburst.

Change your approach

Before anything, it’s important to acknowledge that you cannot change your co-worker. But you can change the way you react to them instead. By approaching them in a different manner to what they would expect you will see positive progress. By lashing out from frustration or by choosing to retaliate it will cause you more unnecessary stress. Focus on the job instead of focusing on your differences. Look at their positive traits instead of the negative ones. Make an effort to build trust, which will help create an understanding between you and hence result in better communication. You could even try a little humor to lighten a tense situation.

How to deal with a difficult co-worker

Communicate clearly

If you have an ongoing issue with your co-worker, gossiping behind their backs or being rude to their face will not be helpful for anyone. Pull them aside and talk it out. You may be surprised how receptive they may be to you if you have a discussion in a calm manner. Speak clearly and don’t let your temper rise, be genuine, and talk reasonably. Sometimes people don’t realize the adverse effect their behavior or words have on others. By simply bringing the issue to light they can take stock and make the necessary changes for better communication.

We can all agree that dealing with a difficult co-worker is not pleasant, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. With a little effort on your part and by learning to practice self-control and empathy any situation can be diffused and resolved. Unless you’re prepared to change jobs, finding a way to make your life easier and having civil relationships with your co-workers is your best option. You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend but just be tolerant and understanding. By doing so you’ll see how the difficult co-worker will no longer affect you as they once did and your work life will ultimately improve.