Dealing with Challenging Co-Workers

May 6, 2019

 

 

One of the most frequent requests I get from my coaching clients is how to deal with challenging colleagues.  At some point have we have all faced this issue.  Dealing with a difficult co-worker, especially over a prolonged period, can be stressful and can change the way we feel about the work we do.

 

How do you respond to a challenging colleague? 

 

Here are some ideas that will help:

 

  • Accept that you don't have to like all your co-workers. You do need to communicate appropriately with them about work. And you do need to be respectful.  Remind yourself to focus on the facts rather than any contrary opinions you have.

 

  • Treat the challenging co-worker with the same respect you treat other colleagues. The more you practice this strategy, the easier it becomes.  Expect nothing in return. Your choice to be respectful is 100% your decision and isn't related to how the co-worker treats you.

 

  • Look for, and recognize that you likely have at least a few things in common. At the very least, you work at the same place, and you both want to do a good job.  Avoid focusing on thoughts about how they don't act the way you want them to.  Remember, it's okay and even common for people to behave differently in the same situation.  

 

  • Live up to your standards. Make a conscious decision to act with integrity at work, especially when dealing with the problematic co-worker.  No matter who you work with, establish and maintain high standards of performance for yourself and be sure to live up to them before expecting that from others.  Demonstrate through your behavior that you'll do everything possible to complete all work tasks professionally.

 

  • No matter how challenging a colleague may be, you should maintain a constructive and professional tone during any exchange.  Avoid showing irritation, annoyance or dislike.  There will be times when you need to communicate with the colleague in question. Intentionally avoiding them is counterproductive.  Remind yourself to behave with acceptance and patience. Remind yourself to “take the high road.”
     

  • Try to find the good in everyone, including your difficult coworkers.  And if appropriate compliment them, or thank them sincerely and genuinely.

 

  • Avoid petty discussions with others about the challenging co-worker. Office gossip serves no purpose.  It decreases morale and creates an emotionally unsafe environment for everyone there, including you.

 

You are capable of deciding to interact with challenging co-workers successfully. Actively applying the above techniques will help you in looking past your personal feelings and focusing on your job.

 

BUT, if you feel you have tried these techniques, or if your colleague is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, please ask for help.Speak to your manager, or the human resources representative, speak to someone and get help and support for yourself!!!

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