Ideally, you build strong relationships with all your coworkers and team projects go very smoothly. At times, there’s a coworker who you are not on the same page with and let’s face it, can sometimes drive you bananas. This coworker’s attitude can sometimes really affect your day. Luckily, there are some strategies that can be used to handle difficult coworkers at the office.
Understand the “Why”
Even the most difficult co-workers have reasons for their behavior. There are occasionally people who are just awful human beings, but more times than not it’s something you can overcome. The person may be a stickler for the rules, or they might feel unappreciated or faced some challenges in their career that affect their negatively affect their perspective. If you can understand the individual’s motivations, you can figure out how to deal with them.
The “why” question also works in reverse. When you must deal with this person, explain your intentions. People are more likely to cooperate when they understand the reasons why you need something done. They might think that you are being the difficult employee, so make sure they understand the reasons for each decision.
If both of you are grumpy and difficult, you will never be able to accomplish anything. Losing your temper will only make difficult coworkers dig their heels in. In some cases, the coworker wants to provoke you. Your best option is to stay calm and remain in control.
Ask for Help with Difficult Coworkers
If you cannot figure out the individual’s intentions, you should ask a colleague, friend or employer for advice. Most likely, other people have experienced the same issue with that coworker. They may be able to tell you what worked for them. Even if they never met your coworker, they can offer a new perspective.
When someone is difficult, it is human nature to respond in kind. Before long, the situation can spiral out of control. One harsh word leads to an angry confrontation and a larger conflict. You must stop the downward spiral before it starts. Treat the coworker with respect. They might not return the respect right away, but you can guarantee that they will respond harshly if you seem disrespectful in any way.
Don’t Get Caught Up in Gossip
Some people gossip for the sake of gossiping. Workplace gossip rarely results in anything positive. Even if you don’t care for the person being gossiped about, do your best to avoid being drawn into the conversation. Gossip never helps you grow in your career. You certainly don’t want to be labeled as someone who encourages that behavior.
Seek Out a Higher Power
Sometimes, there is nothing that you can do to deal with difficult employees if they are affecting your ability to do your job. When nothing else works, talk to your boss. This is generally the last option for handling a problem, but it may be your only option. While you want to handle your own problems, this is not always possible. Your boss may be the only one who can address the difficult employee and get them to change their behavior.