4 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Coworkers

7 December 2021

4 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Coworkers

At work, it is often just the same as in high school. You are put in a room together with other people that initially come across as strange to you, and you are more or less forced to get along with them. "One for all and all for one" nowadays is "Everyone, but not with him or her!" At almost every company there are people who do not make it easy for you and other colleagues. A reckless careerist, the unpredictable intrigant or the persistent pessimist. These annoying and irritating colleagues can really get under your skin. However, you should not let the joy of your work be swallowed up by those people. Here are some tips on how to deal with these individuals.

1. Stay cool!
Dot the i’s and cross the t’s! Take a deep breath and count to ten because the most important rule in dealing with difficult colleagues is to stay calm. Stay objective and don't take it personally. Focus on the factual aspects of a conflict, because otherwise you will lose control of the situation. If you interpret something brash and prematurely, misunderstandings and quarrels will arise. However, when we instead are more open, have more patience and criticise ourselves, we can nip many conflicts in the bud.

2. A personal conversation
It can be quite embarrassing to clarify or resolve difficult situations directly. Therefore, we recommend that you engage in a personal conversation with the “difficult” colleague in private. Don’t wait too long and explain your colleague in an objective and appropriate way why his or her behaviour is bothering you. Assertions and accusations are out of place here and won’t help. If you find it difficult to have a personal conversation or are afraid that the situation may escalate, then find a neutral third party that can act as an intermediary.

Never say never, and never give up!

3. Gossip does not help
"Pssst, have you heard about…?" Do you know everything your colleagues say about you? Gossiping makes us feel good because our frustration needs an outlet. First, gossip makes it easier and satisfies our need to let it all out, but in the long run it will make the situation more complicated as this behaviour is considered unprofessional. Gossiping undermines collaboration and teamwork within a company and no matter how you look at it, gossip at work is never well intended and certainly not harmless. Just think of that other term for gossip: talking ****. If you need to blow off steam, then you should go outside or talk to someone you trust, and don't do this at the office.

4. Distance
If you get stuck and your emotional situation threatens to escalate, then you should simply take some distance.. because for some people nothing will help, no matter what you do. Accept what you cannot change. Just keep working objectively and professionally on the tasks that are assigned to you, and always be polite and respectful. If you are having a bad day and finding it difficult to control your temper, then it is better to kick the garbage bin than the shin of your difficult colleague. Just go outside and get a breath of fresh air.

Peculiarities of individual colleagues - nobody is perfect!

Never say never, and never give up! 8 hours a day and 5 days a week make a total of 160 hours a month and 1,920 hours a year. This is the time that most people spend on average with their “difficult” colleagues at work. Unfortunately we are not able to take our pick from colleagues, and launching them off  to the moon is not yet an option. There’re always ways to deal with annoying colleagues so that they don't ruin your day. Who knows, your “difficult” office neighbour might even become your best friend in time, with whom you can have fun at work and even tolerate stressful days and projects.