Most probably you have to work with a difficult coworker in your career. It can be someone who is rude to you, someone who talks badly about you behind your back, or someone who is always competing with you.
It can be really hard to deal with such people as you want to avoid conflict and maintain a positive environment in the workplace. However, you have to confront the situation if the difficult coworker makes you feel uncomfortable at work.
Here are 11 steps to deal with a difficult coworker.
Table of Contents
1. Examining Your Own Behavior First
Begin by assessing your own behavior while dealing with a tough coworker. Take a step back and think about if you did something wrong for them before the situation escalated.
Think about how you handled the situation and how it might have caused them to act out in a negative way. If so, apologize sincerely and move on.
If you find that your own behavior was beyond reproach, then prepare yourself to address their actions as calmly and gracefully as possible.
Many situations can be avoided and solved through good communication. Ask your coworker to sit down with you in a private setting and talk things out.
When you confront them, make sure to do it in a respectful and non-confrontational manner. Ask why they behave to you that way. Finding their trigger points will help you deal with them in the right direction.
For example, you can say something like: “Why did you say these rude words to me?” “I’m having a hard time understanding why you choose to act this way. Can you please explain it?”
Be sure to allow them to explain themselves and listen patiently.
3. Be Assertive
If the difficult coworker doesn’t respond to your attempts at communication, then it’s time to take a more assertive approach. Explain clearly what behaviors you find unacceptable and how you expect them to act in the future. Make sure that your expectations are reasonable.
It is also important to follow through with any consequences you have set for them if they don’t adhere to your expectations. This way, the difficult coworker will understand that their behavior is not acceptable and it won’t be tolerated anymore.
4. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
If the difficult coworker can tell you the reason why they act that way, trying to put yourself in their shoes may help you learn how to better handle the difficult situation.
Try to understand their perspective, and you may realize that their behavior is a result of their own frustrations and not anything related to you or your work.
Once you understand them better, you will be able to find a good solution. You can try reaching out to them and offering help if they are facing any kind of difficulty.
5. Learn to Manage Different Personalities
As you can understand, there are many different personalities in the workplace and you can avoid conflicts if you know how to handle them. For example, some colleagues may separate work and life apart, while others may be more emotionally involved.
Trying to understand these personalities will help you find better ways to approach them and deal with them.
6. Lead By Example
Look at the situation objectively and focus on how best to resolve it. Try not to take things personally and instead work as a team towards achieving common goals.
Remember to be polite and courteous with them, even if they are rude and disrespectful toward you. This will set a good example for your coworkers and may encourage the difficult coworker to follow suit.
7. Not Participating in Office Gossip
When you engage in office gossip, you’ll inevitably talk badly about other coworkers even if you’re not willing to.
If the coworkers you’re talking about know that you are participating in the gossip and talk about them, they will think of you as untrustworthy and difficult to work with.
It can also further damage the relationship that you have with the difficult coworker and make it more difficult to resolve your conflicts. Therefore, it is better to stay away from office gossip.
8. Focus on Your Own Work
Your work is the first place when you do a job. Remain focused on your own work and try to ignore the difficult coworker as much as possible.
When you remain professional in your behavior and focus on producing good quality work, it will be very hard for a difficult coworker to find anything to criticize you for.
This may also encourage difficult coworkers to change their behavior and be more respectful towards you.
9. Seeking Help
If the situation does not gets better after trying your best, then it is time to seek help from your manager or HR team. Explain the situation that you are facing with a difficult coworker and ask them for help in resolving the issue.
It is important that you seek help before the situation becomes worse. Your manager or HR team will be able to guide you on how to deal with difficult coworkers and provide any support needed.
10. Avoid Them If You Can
If nothing else works after your manager steps in, and you feel that the situation is beyond repair, it might be best to avoid the difficult coworker whenever possible. This will help reduce conflicts and stressful situations in the future.
Although avoiding them may not be an ideal solution, it could be the best option if you don’t feel comfortable interacting with them.
11. Stay Positive
Despite all the difficulties, try to stay positive. Remember that difficult coworkers may not have the best intentions, but they can’t destroy your positive attitude and approach toward work.
No matter how hard it is to handle a difficult coworker, don’t let their negativity bring you down. Instead, focus on ways to improve the situation and keep a positive attitude throughout the process.
Difficult coworkers can be hard to deal with, but being approachable and understanding their motivations can help you find an amicable solution.
Remain professional at all times, stay focused on your work, and avoid office gossip to improve the relationship. If nothing works, then it is best to seek help from your manager or HR team. Lastly, try to remain positive despite any difficulties that you may face with a difficult coworker.
With the right attitude and approach, hope you can make your work environment remains productive and harmonious.