Handling a Difficult Coworker – Life Doesn’t Have to be Miserable

At some point in everyone’s career, they end up in a challenging situation that requires them to deal with a difficult coworker. Whether the person is overly negative or combative, doesn’t meet their deadlines, or is generally unreliable, it can make facing your workday a tall order.

However, even if you are stuck with a difficult coworker, that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable while on the job. There are things you can do to help mitigate the situation, allowing a sense of peace to be restored.

If you are faced with handling a difficult coworker, here are some things you can do.

Examine the Situation First

Your initial step to resolving any issues is to examine the situation fully. This includes reviewing any problems you have with your coworker as well as any role you may play in the contentious relationship.

While no one wants to believe they are responsible for how things are turning out, both you and your coworker are involved. So, don’t forget to look inward and examine your own activities to see if you might be the source of the issue or could be overreacting.

Adjust Your Behavior

After reviewing the problem, you may have identified a pattern in how the interactions tend to devolve. Maybe one of you has the habit of pushing the others buttons, have a fundamental difference in how you approach tasks or otherwise don’t see eye to eye.

Once you figure out where the problem tends to arise, attempt to adjust your own behavior to avoid scenarios that lead to conflict. Practice active listening with your coworker and exhibit a sense of empathy. In some cases, you’ll realize that, through small modifications, you can prevent things from getting out of hand, allowing the situation to resolve naturally.

Have a Conversation

Sometimes, it is necessary to approach your coworker and have a private conversation about the challenges you both are facing with one another. Set aside some time to talk about what is bothering you about the relationship, focusing on using “I” statements to discuss what you’ve encountered and avoiding placing any blame on them.

Work to be pleasant, open and agreeable, and give them a chance to discuss things from their perspective as well. Let them know your goal is to improve the relationship so that you can both work better together, and see if you can find a point of resolution.

Speak with a Manager

Even if you put forth your best effort, you may not be able to find a solution without getting your manager involved, particularly if the issue stems from something other than personality differences, like the person missing deadlines. If that is the case, schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss what is occurring, expressing your interest in finding a peaceful resolution.

Make sure to provide specific examples regarding any troublesome behavior. Otherwise, it will be hard to support your perspective.

Ultimately, many challenging relationships with coworkers can be resolved as long as you are willing to put forth some effort on your part. However, sometimes difficult coworkers will remain that way, especially if management isn’t interested in helping to facilitate change.

If you are seeking out new opportunities, the professionals at Career Options can connect you with leading employers throughout the area. Contact us today to see how our services can benefit you.

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