In the workplace, you probably deal with various stressors. One of these stressors may be dealing with difficult coworkers, something we don’t like to do, but it comes with the territory. Difficult employees can make it hard for you to perform your job duties or collaborate on group tasks and projects, which not only affects you, but the bottom line.
Simply put, dealing with difficult coworkers SUCKS!
But it doesn’t have to (at least, it can suck less). A lot of times, the way we react to these difficult employees often make the problem worse. With a cool head and focused calmness, you can improve this difficult situation while remaining professional and with your job in tact.
Here are five tips for dealing with difficult coworkers:
Shake it Off
The negative behaviors your coworker demonstrates may be for attention, and a manipulative (and immature) way to get their way. Shake off the behavior and ignore it if you can. Once the employee sees you aren’t falling for their bait, they may stop the behavior. Ignoring is always the first line of defense when dealing with less than positive employees.
A sidebar conversation between you and the difficult coworker could help ease the tension and improve the relationship. Remember, the difficult employee may not know they are being difficult (although they may also be doing it on purpose, calling them on it is okay), so pulling them aside and having a conversation with them about their behavior may be warranted—and just what the doctor ordered to help them A. notice their behavior and B. change their behavior.
Mirror Back and Repeat
When dealing with difficult coworkers, repeat their words back to them (as long as they aren’t derogatory or inappropriate—if so, go straight to management). For instance, if the difficult coworker is lashing out and has unrealistic expectations, you can say, “So, let me get this straight. You want us to work late on this project while you go home early because you are tired, correct?” Hearing their insane requests or weird demands may make them realize how out of bounds they are. You may have to do this a few times to drive the point home. And if that doesn’t work…
Comprising with a difficult coworker can work, given the individual person and situation of course. Sometimes a little give and take can go a long way, which can improve your relationship. And if you compromise, they may more likely to do so also in the future.
Report and Mediation
If all else fails, then get management involved. Reporting the difficult employee may give way to mediation and a third party to come in and assess the situation and hopefully work to problem-solve. I don’t like to tell others to “tattle-tale”, but sometimes, bringing someone else in is the only way to solve the problem.
Working with difficult employees isn’t easy (and often makes your job difficult), so I hope if you are dealing with this problem, these tips can help you.