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Ten Tips for Dealing with Difficult Coworkers

Posted by | July 24, 2015 | Communication, Coworker, Workplace

Via All Business : Tired of bullying in the office?

We all have at least one: the coworker, client, or boss you just can’t stand. They make life difficult, and they may even make you question your sense of self-worth.

Unfortunately, the chances of them going away are next to nil. If the person is just generally annoying and doesn’t have a direct bearing on your work, you may be able to ignore them. But if they bully you and you have to work with them on a daily basis, it’s time to take action.

Use these 10 tips to resolve conflicts in your workplace that arise from problem coworkers.

Tip #1: Take note of “toxic” coworkers

Know how to spot the problem people in your organization. They show a variety of symptoms: Some are serial chatters and won’t let you get a word in edgewise. Others dodge blame. Some fail to turn in work on time, no matter how much leeway you give them, forcing you to pick up the slack. Some may gossip about others behind their backs. And then there’s the toxic coworker who just never has anything nice to say about your work. Toxic coworkers can take many forms, and your first line of defense is to identify them.

Tip #2: Watch out for bad bosses

Whether you like it or not, your manager is in charge. If your boss is easygoing and a joy to work for, that shouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, there are far too many people out there who are not easy to work for and are demanding, arrogant, moody, or just plain mean. Sometimes confronting a difficult boss can put your position in jeopardy. But if confrontation is necessary, try not to make the bad boss feel defensive.

Tip #3: Evaluate your circumstances

Your first reaction may be shock at the way you’re being treated. At work, you expect others to act professionally — not an unreasonable request — and it can be difficult to discover coworkers or clients who behave in a childish or hostile way. Take time to let the shock wear off, then try to evaluate what’s going on.

Tip #4: Make your move

If you’re dealing with a problem person at work — especially one who bullies or undermines you personally — you probably need to take action. If you don’t, there’s a good chance the situation will deteriorate even more, not to mention that the stress of dealing with a bully could take its toll on you and your work. You need to let the offending coworker know you’re aware of their behavior and are willing to take it to someone higher in the chain of command if needed.

Tip #5: Take action sooner rather than later

Whatever you decide to do, don’t let it wait. The longer you deal with the toxic situation, the angrier you’ll become. When you finally do take action, you might behave in a way you’ll regret later. It’s better to handle the problem before it really sours, while you’re still emotionally in control.

Tip #6: Maintain your character

No matter how tempting it may be, avoid complaining to others on a regular basis. Otherwise you risk earning a reputation as a whiner, and higher-ups may question why you’re unable to fight your own battles (even if they should be fighting them for you, or at least leading the charge). By constantly complaining, you might be branded as a troublemaker, and you could even be blamed for other office conflicts.

Tip #7: Rise above it

No matter how despicable the person’s behavior may be, keep your cool. There’s a whole range of immature, toxic behavior you may be tempted to try. Avoid trash-talking or getting personal. And if you think those notes taped in the communal kitchen saying, “Wash your own dishes!!! This means YOU!” are annoying, realize that leaving unsigned notes on your coworker’s desk is sinking to a whole new level.

Tip #8: Keep it confidential

Don’t go public with your grievances. More important, don’t engage with the problem person in front of coworkers, your boss, or clients. Keeping your issues with the person private will make it easier to leave the conflict behind you once it’s been resolved.

Tip #9: Approach them first

Take the initiative in repairing your relationship with the toxic coworker. Think positively, and act as if they are as enthusiastic about resolving the conflict as you are. Start the discussion by saying something like, “I may be wrong about this,” or “I apologize for doing anything that might have hurt you.”

Tip #10: Make the most of it

In the end, you may not agree with the problem person. But even if you don’t like them, you can still learn from them. Use your discussion as a way to find out more about their point of view. If possible, comment on something you value in them. It may help them to see you in a more positive light. It’s unlikely you’ll become best friends, but try to use this situation to understand more about where they’re coming from. This will make working with them easier in the future.

Do They Like You?

You may be the smartest person at your company, but if you can’t get along with colleagues, you won’t get far.

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