7 Tips for Working with Difficult Colleagues

How to communicate and deal with difficult coworkers.

The Tipping List

Dealing with Difficult Coworkers

Diffuse the sitch with 7 easy tips

-Tory Johnson, CEO, Women for Hire

two women holding arrow signsRachel has to be the center of attention at all times. Trevor has feedback or criticism on everyone else’s work. Bryan is nice to your face but you know he gossips behind your back. In essence, people can be hard to get along with and it is likely that your coworkers are no exception.

But what can you do if your colleagues are insecure, selfish, depressed, mean-spirited, or needy – or exhibit any other difficult personality trait? Even though it is an overused cliché, do unto others as you would have them do to you. For as many bad behaviors that exist, there are equally as many bad reactions. No matter what someone has said or done, take some time to think before you act. Consider the most respectful, mature and professional way to handle the situation. People make mistakes, and so do you. It is how you handle them that will set you apart.

Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind when dealing with difficult coworkers:

1. Make allowance for coworkers’ faults.
This certainly does not mean that you have to accept the effects of their behaviors. It simply means that no one will be perfect and that you yourself are not perfect. Let the little things go by and focus on the big issues.

2. Communicate.
Quite often, we don’t speak up when someone’s behavior is inappropriate, because we are afraid to upset him or her. Most people would rather dislike a co-worker than be the coworker who is disliked. Therefore, we remain silent. If you want someone to stop a certain behavior, you must point it out discreetly and privately. Ask them politely to refrain. They may react with surprise and anger, but after the initial shock wears down, their behaviors will cease or lessen and you can continue working side by side.

3. Speak in a professional tone at all times. Raising your voice will simply aggravate the situation.

4. Don’t expect someone to change overnight. You will surely be disappointed.

5. Forgive and forget. Don’t hold a grudge to all eternity.

6. Be honest with yourself and others. It doesn’t pay to let others continuously get away with murder.

7. Don’t rush to judgment. Make sure there is real impact on the quality of work, not just a personality trait you simply don’t like.

Tory Johnson is the CEO of Women for Hire and the Workplace Contributor on ABC’s Good Morning America. Connect with her at womenforhire.com.

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