How To: Deal With A Difficult Co-Worker
The Impossible Co-Worker
How to Deal With THAT Co-Worker
Everyone has a co-worker that is difficult to get along with for one reason or another. You know the one – he or she is always right. Always knows everything better than everyone else. Always thinks that his or her way is the not only the best way, but the only way. The one, that if you said the sky was a pretty blue today, he or she would have to argue with you and say that it wasn’t quite the perfect blue, it was more of an off gray. That difficult co-worker.
There are several ways to deal with the difficult co-worker. Some will get you further ahead in your company – some could get you fired! Here are some ideas :
Ignore the Co-Worker
This will change nothing. Life will continue as it has. You will continue to be bullied by your co-worker because your co-worker will assume you are okay with it. Or too weak to do anything about it. This is the least best way to deal with a difficult co-worker. This way will allow your co-worker to continue to walk all over you and just assume that they can get away with it. Things may even get worse instead of better.
Try to Talk Calmly With The Co-Worker
This can sometimes work. Sometimes the co-worker really is just trying to be helpful. They just don’t know when to stop. Speaking to him or her will help remind them that you are willing and able to do your job and that you really do not need any help in doing it. Let them know that you don’t appreciate the way that you have been treated, and maybe share ways that you would like to be treated. But, truly, if this works, you do not have a difficult co-worker – just an overeager one.
What About You?
Do You Have A Difficult Co-Worker?
Talk to Your Supervisor
Let your supervisor know your concerns. It is possible that your supervisor doesn’t see the same problems you do – or doesn’t see them from your perspective. It is important that your supervisor knows the pain this co-worker is causing you. Your supervisor might just see that the work is getting done and doesn’t see the bullying that is being done along with the work. Or the supervisor may see the co-worker as someone in a leadership position and doesn’t see that he or she is being adversarial while doing that work. Your supervisor needs to know how you feel about this person. But be careful! Be as kind as you can when you complain! You don’t want to become the problem!
Don't Whine About It
Have a Meeting With the Co-Worker and the Supervisor
You might have to work with both the co-worker and the supervisor, especially if the supervisor is getting differing stories from you and your co-worker. Having a face-to-face meeting will air out all the issues and force the co-worker to confront them more honestly. Notice that I didn’t just say “honestly.” Meeting with the supervisor doesn’t guarantee that your co-worker will be honest – but may help him or her to be more honest. Just stick to your guns and keep telling your side of the story. Sooner or later the lies will come unwound.
Listen to My Advice!
Write the Co-Worker a Letter
If you have a fear of any confrontation at all – as I do – maybe your solution is to sit down and write an honest letter. Lay out all of your concerns on paper. Be honest, but be fair – remember by writing it all down your co-worker now has proof of what you have said. If you are honest and try to be helpful with your words and not try to be rude and degrading just to get back at this person, you are less likely to be in any trouble if your co-worker shares your letter with your supervisor. I guess the bottom line here is, if you don’t want your supervisor to see it – don’t write it!
Make a Phone Call
If you can’t handle face-to-face confrontation – make a phone call. Call your co-worker and explain to them how they are making you feel. Be nice. Don’t be hurtful, even if the opportunity arises. You don’t want to turn into that difficult co-worker. Just explain your point of view and how you want things to change. Explain that you know how to do your job and really don’t need their help in doing it. Let them know that if you DO need their help, you will surely ask them. Small gestures can soothe the ego.
Talk to Other Co-workers About Your Difficult Co-Worker
Talk to others in your company about your difficult co-worker. They may be seeing the same thing. See how they handle this person. They may have ideas that you haven’t thought of or tried yet. They could be just as frustrated as you, but know how to deal with that difficult co-worker. Even if they don’t have an answer, sometimes it just helps to talk to another person going through the same thing.
If it is possible, transfer positions in your company to get away from your difficult co-worker. Be careful – this is a permanent move. Make sure this is a move you want to take. You might just put yourself in a position where you are working with an even more difficult co-worker and an even less sympathetic supervisor. And sometimes, this isn’t even possible, especially if the company or department you work in is too small. But for some, this is a very distinct possibility.
Have It Out
Depending on how secure you are at your job, you might just be able to have it out with that difficult co-worker. Just tell them up front how you feel and what they are doing to make you uncomfortable at your job. This is different than just having a meeting with him or her – this might happen after you have tried that meeting. This time you might have to be a little more in your face about your issues and less friendly. I would only use this if you are very secure in your job or if you are ready to make a change in jobs, because it could backfire and you could lose your job over it.
Find a New Job
This is the most dramatic fix to the problem – but for some it may be the only solution. It also might happen against your will if you have had a confrontation with your difficult co-worker. Again, you must be very careful making this decision – it is a permanent fix. Make sure you are willing to give up everything at your current job – all of your benefits, friendly co-workers, anything positive – just because of one difficult co-worker. If the co-worker is that much of a pain, it may truly be worth it – but make sure you weigh all the pros and cons before you make this decision.
Everyone in every job has to deal with difficult co-workers at least once. These solutions may work for some of you dealing with this problem and may not help others. Maybe these ideas will sprout other ideas for you. Just remember – you have to work to pay the bills. You DON’T have to be unhappy while you work – especially because of a difficult co-worker.