Dealing With Difficult Co-Workers

Do you ever find yourself in inconvenient situations at work where you are required to deal with bossy, self-centered, challenging co-workers who really haven’t done any work since the early 1900’s? Me too! It seems to be an ongoing cycle where we are left to deal with these colleagues alone. Resolving tricky situations in the workplace is always a challenging task but it can be quite rewarding in the long run, if handled correctly and professionally.

Here are five tips that you might find helpful when dealing with difficult co-workers.

Dealing with Difficult Co-Workers

Examine yourself in every situation

Start off by asking yourself questions, such as; Is it really a problem? Are you overreacting? Is it a personality clash? Can you effectively and professionally deal with this colleague without blowing it out of proportion? Always start by ensuring that you’re not making it a bigger issue than it needs to be. It may not even bother others the way it bothers you. Ensure that you’re not creating an issue with a colleague that is not already there.

Shut down gossip when necessary

Every workplace has gossip and this happens because we’re human. The key is to identify whether the gossip is harmless or out-of-hand. Gossip needs to be managed if and/or when workplace and business disruptions occur, emotions are effected, interpersonal relationships break down or motivation is sacrificed.

Don’t attack the gossiper, otherwise gossiping will continue. Have a serious conversation with the gossiping co-worker with the presence of the manager and or supervisor. Establish the reasons behind the gossiping, example fear of job loss. Set in place consequences and reviews points to minimise out-of-place gossiping in the workplace.

“Who gossips to you will gossip about you.”

Take an open and honest approach towards challenging colleagues

If a difficult co-worker is creating issues in your workplace, have a private discussion about how this is affecting you personally and professionally. Use “I” messages to focus on what you are experiencing due to their behaviour during work hours – this will avoid your colleague from feeling attacked or being accused of something. Use professional explanations of how they are having an impact on you and your work.

Don’t beat around the bush when needing to discuss a difficult or uncomfortable topic. Get straight to the point and be professional about it. Remember to separate the person from the issue itself.

Think about verbal and non-verbal communication

Always show respect, utilise active listening and provide professional advice where necessary. If you are required to approach the challenging co-workers at any stage, use a soft approach rather than attacking or accusing them.

When thinking about non-verbal cues and communication, always consider your body language, facial expressions, posture, eye contact and gestures. Focus on utilising positive non-verbal strategies, such as comfortable stance and posture to lighten up a tricky situation and cut tension. Always remember to make eye contact while in discussion to maintain a professional demeanour and seriousness to the conversation.

Always keep your cool in every situation

Keeping your cool when dealing with challenging co-workers will assist you to effectively resolve issues. You will be able to maintain self-control and avoid creating more problems than present. When facing difficult co-workers, maintaining a calm demeanour will assist you better in judging the situation, therefore effectively and professionally dealing with the problem.

Reducing the risk of confrontation in the workplace is always an employee’s goal. When faced with difficult co-workers, such as the bossy, self-centred and lazy, it is important to always deal with problems that arise in a professional manner, utilising respect and seriousness. Focus on effective problem-solving, rather than creating more issues than needed. Don’t attack or accuse the challenging co-workers, otherwise this will lead to confrontation and ongoing tension in the workplace. Don’t take gossip personally and remember to think ahead of demanding colleagues. Believe and utilise the power you have, don’t overuse it. Lastly, always remember to examine what you bring to the table and ensure that you’re not overreacting.

Good luck dealing with your unruly co-workers and be sure to let us know if any of our tips helped you out!


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