How do I Deal with Difficult Co-Workers?

It is likely that at some time or another, everyone will have to deal with difficult co-workers. The degrees to which people can be difficult to work with vary; for instance, some people may simply be irritating with constant gossiping, while others may be offensive or deliberately trying to undermine your work and causing practical problems for you. The ways in which you deal with difficult co-workers should certainly change depending on the situation, but one thing that will probably never work is to just ignore the situation and hope it goes away.

One of the most common types of difficult co-workers is the office gossip. This person loves to find out and spread information around about other people; one way to deal with this is to refuse to participate in the gossip. Do not provide information about yourself or other people to the office gossip, and if he or she tries to engage in that type of conversation with you, try to switch to a different topic of conversation that is more appropriate.

Another one of the most common types of difficult co-workers is the office bully. This person may try to take credit for your work, make you look bad in front of your boss, or may try to give you constant advice or direction when it is not their place to do so. Though it may be challenging, it is important to stand up to this person. Often, a private conversation with this type of person can make a big difference. In addition, be sure your superiors know the work you are doing.

If there is a person at your workplace who is constantly making malicious or inappropriate jokes, again, it may be best to have a conversation with that person about the ways in which his or her jokes bother you. These are just a few of the examples of difficult co-workers you might encounter. Keep in mind that though a private conversation is often the best place to start to resolve difficulties, it may not always work.

The next step may be to involve your superiors, or to go to human resources. They should then have a conversation with the difficult co-worker about his or her behavior. If any incidents occur after that, begin to document them, noting the type of incident as well as when it occurred. Try to avoid working with the difficult person as much as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not possible to change the behavior of difficult co-workers, and it may be necessary to switch to a different job within the company, or even leave the company altogether, if the situation becomes too stressful or upsetting to manage.


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